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British Muslims plead for hostage under threat

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LONDON (AP) — British Muslim leaders made a plea Thursday for the safety of a British hostage threatened with beheading by Islamic State extremists in Syria.

Alan Henning's life was threatened in a video released Saturday that showed him in the hands of the extremists who beheaded British captive David Haines and two American journalists. The group says in the video that Henning will be next if Britain doesn't end its support for U.S. military strikes.

The Muslim leaders said in a letter published in the Independent newspaper that Henning is a humanitarian aid worker who went to Syria to help victims of the civil war. The religious leaders and community organizers ask the Islamic State group to "show him some mercy."

They say that under Islamic rules, anyone doing humanitarian work "should be commended and held in the highest esteem" and there is no justification in the Quran for the "despicable" threat against Henning. The letter adds that Henning should be released immediately.

It is signed by the leader of the Muslim Council of Britain, the chief imams of many major mosques and more than 100 Muslim activists.

The 47-year-old Henning, a former taxi driver from the Manchester area of northwestern England, was taken captive in December shortly after joining an aid convoy and crossing the border from Turkey into Syria.

British Muslims familiar with Henning's volunteer work have also made online pleas for his release, emphasizing that he did not go to Syria for political reasons but to help victims.

The Islamic State militants beheaded Haines despite his British family's plea for them to make contact. The video announcing his death was made public within a day of the family's appeal.

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