Will ISIS Beheading of David Haines Spur Britain to Conduct Airstrikes?

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to take “whatever steps are necessary” to defeat ISIS after the militants released a video showing the beheading of a British aid worker and threats to the life of another. The release of the video showing the apparent execution of David Haines, 44, is expected to heap pressure on the British government to take stronger military action against ISIS. Britain’s Foreign Office said Sunday “all signs are that the video is genuine,” adding that it has no reason to believe otherwise.

In a strongly-worded statement after he convened an emergency meeting of military and security officials on Sunday, Cameron said the threat of ISIS cannot be ignored but stopped short of announcing further military action. “There is no option of keeping our heads down that would make us safe,” Cameron said in a televised address. “We have to confront this menace.” The prime minister called Haines “a British hero” who was murdered “in the most callous and brutal way imaginable,” saying the brutality “must strengthen our resolve” to defeat ISIS. “They are not Muslims, they are monsters,” Cameron said, pledging to tackle the threat of ISIS with “an iron determination.” He insisted, however, that Britain will not act alone and will work with its allies to defeat ISIS and “drain this poison from our society.”

“We are ready to take whatever steps are necessary to deal with this threat and keep our country safe,” Cameron said. Britain’s Parliament voted against military action in Syria last year, but some British lawmakers have called for the U.K. to launch air strikes in response to Haines video. The video featured a black-clad militant clutching a knife and saying Haines’ execution was retaliation for the U.K.’s decision to arm Kurdish fighters battling the group in Iraq. President Barack Obama said the U.S. stands "shoulder-to-shoulder" with Britain in grief and resolve. France, which is holding an international conference on Monday about the threat of ISIS, also condemned Haines' murder.

Haines, a father of two, was reported abducted in early 2013 in Syria while working for an aid group. His family had issued a plea for the aid workers’ captors to make contact shortly before the video was released.


- Cassandra Vinograd