THE grieving families of British aid workers beheaded by Islamic State terrorists have called on the nation to reclaim the country from the clutches of extremism.
Victims David Haines, from Perth, and Alan Henning, from Salford, were murdered on camera by IS radicals after being captured in 2013. Their deaths sent shockwaves round the world when their gruesome final moments were posted on the internet.
Their families have now given their support to the Fightback Starts Here campaign, joining more than 100 charities, inter-faith organisations and community leaders pledging their collective backing to tackling all forms of extremism.
Mr Haines’s brother Mike and Mr Henning’s widow Barbara are among those signing an open letter calling on a united effort to “reject the lies that extremists spread” and refuse to allow them “to groom our young people and destroy our families and communities”.
Mike Haines said: “Radicalisation and extremism are the biggest challenge facing our communities in the UK.
“I have travelled across the country in recent months, as part of my journey following the murder of my brother David by IS, and I have seen the sheer determination of communities to come together in the face of this serious threat.
“We cannot allow terrorist gangs to polarise our communities; we must stand united, pool our resources and expertise in tackling radicalisation and extremism, and send a clear message to those who wish to cause us harm that they will not defeat us.
“I am proud to add my name to the Fightback Starts Here campaign and I will do whatever I can to support this incredible initiative.”
Mr Haines was beheaded after being taken hostage in Syria in 2013 while working for international relief agency Acted. Mr Henning, 47, was captured by IS militants while on an aid convoy also in 2013.
Pledging her support to the campaign, which will use the hashtag #fightbackstartshere to maximise backing online, Mrs Henning added: “Like my family, communities across the UK are being affected by the serious threat of radicalisation and extremism by monsters like Isis. Their ability to use social media and the internet to spread hate must be stopped.
“Now is the time that, as a country, we come together and do everything within our power as a united community, to stop these vicious and poisonous groups from stealing our loved ones away, which is why I fully support the campaign.”
The open letter confirms a pledge from signatories to work together to defeat terrorism and states: “Enough is enough.”
It adds: “We invite everyone who loves life – whether non-government, government, voluntary or private sector – to join us in shaping these solutions, because we know we face a common and determined enemy. It demands a common and determined response.
“We can – we must – win this battle together. The fightback starts here”.