Prime Minister David Cameron and Scotland”s First Minister Alex Salmond have spoken out following the horrific murder of Scottish aid worker David Haines by Islamic militant group ISIL.
Mr Cameron said: “Today, the whole country will want to express its deep sympathy for David Haines’ family. They have endured the last 18 months of David’s captivity with extraordinary courage.
And now David has been murdered in the most callous and brutal way imaginable by an organisation which is the embodiment of evil.
We will hunt down those responsible and bring them to justice, no matter how long it takes.
David Haines was an aid worker. He went into harm’s way not to harm people, but to help his fellow human beings in the hour of their direst need – from the Balkans to the Middle East.
His family spoke of the joy he felt when he learned he had got this job in Syria. His selflessness, his decency, his burning desire to help others has today cost him his life.
But the whole country, like his grieving family, can be incredibly proud of what he did and what he stood for in his humanitarian mission.
David Haines was a British hero. The fact that an aid worker was taken, held and brutally murdered at the hands of ISIL sums up what this organisation stands for.
They are killing and slaughtering thousands of people, Muslims, Christians, minorities across Iraq and Syria.
They boast of their brutality. They claim to do this in the name of Islam. That is nonsense. Islam is a religion of peace.
They are not Muslims. They are monsters.
They make no secret of their desire to do as much harm not just in the Middle East, but to any countries or peoples who seek to stand in their way or dare to stand for values they disagree with.
It was an ISIL fanatic who gunned down four people in a museum in Brussels.
So, let me be clear.
The British people need to know that this is a fanatical organisation called ISIL, that has not only murdered a British hostage. They have planned – and continue to plan – attacks across Europe and in our country.
We are a peaceful people. We do not seek out confrontation. But we need to understand. We cannot ignore this threat to our security and that of our allies. There is no option of keeping our heads down that would make us safe. The problem will merely get worse, as it has done over recent months, not just for us, but for Europe and for the world. We cannot just walk on by if we are to keep this country safe. We have to confront this menace.
Step by step, we must drive back, dismantle and ultimately destroy ISIL and what it stands for.
We will do so in a calm, deliberate way – but with an iron determination.
We will not do so on our own – but by working closely with our allies, not just the United States and in Europe, but also in the region. Because this organisation poses a massive threat to the entire Middle East.
So we will defeat ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy.
First, we will work with the Iraqi Government to ensure it represents all its people, and is able to tackle this threat effectively. We will support the Kurdish regional government, who are holding the front line against ISIL. We will help them protect their own people – and the minorities, including Christians, they have helped already – through our supplies of ammunition and through training.
Second, we will work at the UN to mobilise the broadest possible support to bear down on ISIL.
Third, the United States is taking direct military action. We support their efforts.
British Tornadoes and surveillance aircraft have been helping with intelligence gathering and logistics. This is not about British combat troops on the ground. It is about working with others to extinguish this terrorist threat. As this strategy intensifies, we are ready to take whatever steps are necessary to deal with this threat and keep our country safe.
Fourth, we will continue to support the enormous humanitarian efforts, including using the RAF to do so, to help the literally millions of people who have fled ISIL and are now living in appalling conditions.
And fifth, and perhaps most important, we will maintain and continually reinforce our formidable counter-terrorist effort here at home to prevent attacks and to hunt down those who are planning them.
People across this country will have been sickened by the fact that it could have been a British citizen – a British citizen – who could have carried out this unspeakable act. It is the very opposite of everything our country stands for.
It falls to the Government, and to each and every one of us, to drain this poison from our society and to take on this warped ideology that is radicalising some of our young people.
The murder of David Haines at the hands of ISIL will not lead Britain to shirk our responsibility, with our allies, to deal with the threat this organisation poses.
It must strengthen our resolve. We must recognise that it will take time to eradicate a threat like this. It will require, as I have described, action at home and abroad. This is not something we can do on our own – we have to work with the rest of the world.
But ultimately our security as a nation, the way we go about our everyday lives in this free and tolerant society that is Britain, has always depended on our readiness to act against those who stand for hatred and who stand for destruction.
And that is exactly what we will do.”
Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond also condemned the murder as ‘an act of unspeakable barbarism.’
He went on: “”We offer our sincerest condolences to the Haines family and friends who have borne these absolutely terrible circumstances with great fortitude in recent months. Supporting the family and ensuring they get the privacy they have asked for is of primary importance to us at this time.
“Earlier today I convened a meeting of the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Sub-Committee for Resilience (CSC-SGOR) to look at our specific responsibilities in these matters and we will continue to work closely with Police Scotland, the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the coming days.
“We will also work with the communities of Scotland, which is of great priority. Scotland’s Muslim community are a strong and valued part of Scottish society, and they should in no way be held responsible for the extremism of ISIL. But we must have total vigilance, and be clear that any aggravated racial or religious attack will be met with the full force of the law and will not be tolerated.”
Police Scotland have also released a statement.
Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said: “Information has been received that David Haines, who had been held hostage in Syria, has been murdered by terrorists. Our thoughts are very much with David’s family at this most difficult time and we are doing all we can to support them. This horrific act of violence affects many different communities across the world, including people here in Scotland.
Police Scotland and the communities we serve are unanimous in our condemnation of this murder and other acts of violence by terrorists around the world. We stand collectively in defiance of such atrocities. Scotland is a welcoming and compassionate country with integrated and cohesive communities.
Police Scotland is committed to keeping people safe. I urge all people in Scotland to continue working together to ensure nobody feels threatened or marginalised. We must all ensure that the threat posed by terrorists operating in both Syria and Iraq does not undermine the positive relationships which exist across Scotland. Should anyone witness or become the victim of Hate Crime they should contact Police Scotland immediately. Police Scotland will not tolerate any form of Hate Crime and we are committed to doing everything in our power to identify and bring those responsible to justice.
At this time there is no specific threat to Scotland. However, given that the current overall threat level is severe, I would encourage everyone to remain vigilant. Police Scotland is working with law enforcement and security partners around the world to counter the threat from terrorism to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all communities.
If anyone has any information or concerns about suspicious activity, they should contact Police Scotland on 101, Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or the Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321. In an emergency always dial 999.
Police Scotland thanks you for your continued support.”