The kidnap and threatened murder of British aid worker Alan Henning by Islamic State (IS) militants is not permissible under sharia law, prominent Muslim clerics have warned.
A judge on the Sharia council in London, a director of Prophetic Guidance and an imam pleaded with the Islamic extremists to release the former taxi driver from Manchester, who travelled to Syria last year.
Their plea followed a similar call from representatives from Britain’s Muslim community who signed a letter urging IS to free the 47-year-old. Henning appeared at the end of the video depicting the murder of David Haines released last weekend and his life is similarly threatened.
In a YouTube video Judge Shaykh Haitham Al Haddad said: “This is to confirm that executing this man is … impermissible, prohibited according to Sharia.”
Ustadh Abu Eesa, a director of Prophetic Guidance, is based in Manchester and said he would “personally vouch for” Mr Henning, adding that his would-be killers are defacing the religion of Islam.
Imam Shakeel Begg, of Lewisham Islamic Centre quotes from the Koran, explaining that there is “no justification in our religion that allows you to continue to hold him let alone harm him”.
Earlier this year, Islamic State was also disowned by Al-Qaeda. In February, a statement released by the group read: “[Al-Qaeda] has no connection with the group called the [IS], as it was not informed or consulted about its establishment. It was not pleased with it and thus ordered its suspension. Therefore, it is not affiliated with al-Qaeda and has no organisational relationship with it.
“Al-Qaeda is not responsible for [IS]’ actions,” it added.
In footage released earlier this week, Henning said that the dangerous journey to Syria that he was undertaking was “worthwhile” to help those in need. He spoke with other aid workers on the Greece-Turkey border in December last year.
And, on Thursday, a video of British photojournalist John Cantlie was released, showing the hostage reading from a prepared script, saying he would talk about the self-proclaimed IS movement. Unlike previous IS videos there was no threat made on camera to Mr Cantlie’s life.
Still from Islamic State propaganda video
Islamic State has also released a new propaganda video showing the murders of soldiers claimed to be loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In the video, called Flames of War and featuring IS’ now-common slick production, a masked man with an American accent delivers a speech in front of the kneeling soldiers.
The men had been forced to dig their own shallow graves before they are shown being shot in the head.
On Saturday, it was reported that around 45,000 Kurds had crossed the border into Turkey fleeing the advance of IS militants. It was also reported that, the same day, Turkish intelligence agents rescued 46 hostages seized by Islamic State more than three months ago.
According to the Reuters news agency, security sources said the hostages were released overnight in the town of Tel Abyad on the Syrian side of the border with Turkey after being transferred from the eastern Syrian city of Raqqa, Islamic State’s stronghold.
The hostages, who included Turkey’s consul-general, diplomats’ children and special forces soldiers, were seized from the Turkish consulate in Mosul on 11 June during a lightning advance by the Sunni insurgents.
On Friday, Turkey reportedly opened a stretch of the frontier as Kurdish civilians fled their homes, fearing an imminent attack on the Syrian border town of Ayn al-Arab.
“Around 45,000 Syrian Kurds have crossed the border as of now from eight entrance points along a 30km distance from Akcakale to Mursitpinar since we opened the border yesterday,” Turkish deputy prime minister Numan Kurtulmus told CNN Turk television.