The daughter of a British aid worker who was murdered by members of an Islamic State terrorist cell has described watching the video of his beheading and looking an alleged IS killer in the eye in court.
David Haines was captured just days after arriving in Syria in 2013 and the following year was beheaded. The killing, which was recorded and posted online, was one of several of western and Japanese captives by the gang of four IS militants nicknamed “the Beatles” by their hostages because of their British accents.
Last week Haines’s daughter Bethany flew out to see El Shafee Elsheikh appear in court. He has been charged with multiple offences relating to the capture and beheading of four US hostages killed by the terrorist cell but is not standing trial for Haines’s murder.
In the programme: The Isis ‘Beatles’: Blood On Their Hands, to be broadcast on ITV on Monday, Bethany Haines talks openly and movingly about her reaction to the news of her father’s death, when she was a teenager and still at school.
“It was almost a relief in a way, because you’d been waiting for it so long and it builds up in your head, but then you have to come to the realisation that you’re never going to see your dad again,” she said.
“I was told not to watch it [the video], but it’s hard when you have so many people coming up to you and asking you, so I locked myself in the bathroom and, you know, Googled it, and there it came up and sat through it. .. I felt physically sick. It was final, you know? I took myself off and just needed a bit of time to kind of come to terms with what I’d just witnessed.”
Haines said it was after the journalist James Foley was killed in August 2014 that she lost hope of a rescue mission, saying: “It changed everything.” She recalled one of the hardest things at the time was not being allowed to tell anyone that her father was being held hostage. At the same time, she was initially assured that he would be coming home. After Foley’s death, however, her fears increased when her father was paraded in an orange jumpsuit with a knife to his neck.
She said: “That’s when I knew that he’s not going to come back. And we had to try and prepare ourselves for every single day that the video would come out and eventually it did.”
Elsheikh and another Briton, Alexanda Amon Kotey, were extradited to the US last year, having been stripped of their UK citizenship. In September, Kotey pleaded guilty to multiple charges. As part of the plea deal, which will allow him to come back to the UK after 15 years to serve out his sentence, he has agreed to meet each of the victims’ families if they request it.
Elsheikh is due to go on trial in January. After seeing him in court, Haines said: “He just stared right into my eyes and I stared back. I’m not going to be intimidated by him. I’m not going to look away.”
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