SHAFAQNA – DAVID CAMERON yesterday ordered spy chiefs to find Alan Henning’s murderer so he can send the SAS to capture or kill the man known as “Jihadi John”.The prime minister summoned the heads of MI5, MI6 and GCHQ to his Chequers country retreat and told them he wanted them to provide him with targets for a special forces raid on the Isis kidnappers.
The meeting came 12 hours after the terrorists released video showing the British-born terrorist beheading Henning, a 47-year-old former taxi driver from Salford.
Cameron stepped in as Henning’s brother-in-law, Colin Livesey, and one of his friends accused the government of failing to do enough to save him.
Henning’s widow Barbara said the family were “numb with grief” at his murder and thanked those who had campaigned for his release.
But Livesey, her brother, said he was “angry” with the government and criticised their handling of the case and that of David Haines, the Scottish aid worker who was beheaded last month.
“They could have done more when they knew about it months and months ago,” he said. “Just the same with David Haines as well — I don’t think they did enough for him either.”
Branding the terrorists “scum”, he said he prayed they “get what’s coming to them”.
Majid Freeman, a friend of Henning who was on the same aid convoy when he was kidnapped, said: “We have been pressuring the government into doing something to secure his release, but they abandoned him. The British government left him out there.”
The Sunday Times understands that intelligence chiefs have supplied Cameron with information about the terrorist cell holding the remaining hostages.
But the information on their whereabouts is not detailed or reliable enough for him to allow an SAS raid because the terrorist group is moving around the Syrian desert.
Whitehall sources say that the intelligence agencies are “working round the clock” to locate Jihadi John and that the vast majority of MI5’s intelligence effort is now directed at the threat from Syria.
But a senior source said Cameron had asked Sir John Sawers, chief of the Secret Intelligence Service MI6, his MI5 counterpart, Andrew Parker, and Iain Lobban, the head of GCHQ, to “make sure we really are making sure we are gathering all the intelligence we can”.
After the meeting, the prime minister signalled that he wanted to deploy the SAS. Calling Henning’s murder “senseless and completely unforgivable”, Cameron said: “We will use all the assets we have to try and find these hostages. We will do all we can to hunt down these murderers and bring them to justice.”
The US has already launched one abortive rescue mission and insiders say the SAS is likely to work with American special forces if it gets the go-ahead.
British sources say a special forces team is on standby in the region ready to move quickly if they get a window of opportunity. Details of the hunt come as:
– The Sunday Times obtained a manifesto written by a senior Isis commander which reveals that the terrorist group wants to obtain Iranian nuclear secrets and is preparing a campaign of ethnic cleansing to tighten its stranglehold. The document is now being studied by British intelligence officers
– It emerged that 100 British jihadists who defected from Isis are stranded in Turkey because they fear the prospect of imprisonment if they return to the UK
– A 15-year-old girl from Bristol who is feared to have travelled abroad to become a jihadist bride may have been recruited by a group of British women who act as religious police for Isis terrorists.
The video of Henning’s murder emerged a week after the House of Commons overwhelmingly backed the deployment of British military forces to bomb Isis positions in Iraq.
In it he says: “I am Alan Henning. Because of our parliament’s decision to attack the Islamic State, I, as a member of the British public, will now pay the price for that decision.”
Barbara Henning thanked everyone who had taken part in campaigns for her husband’s release before “the news we hoped we would never hear”.
“As a family we are devastated by the news of his death. There are few words to describe how we feel at this moment. All of Alan’s family and friends are numb with grief.”
She praised the “support” from the government, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and police, and said: “We always knew that Alan was in the most dangerous of situations but we hoped that he would return home to us. That is not to be.”
Downing Street said Isis’s “brutality will not persuade us to change our approach”.
The Sunday Times has learnt that ministers have ruled that airstrikes must avoid civilian casualties. Michael Fallon, the defence secretary, has decreed that only targets with a risk assessment of zero civilians should proceed.
Last night the government came under renewed pressure to extend British airstrikes to Syria.
Lord Dannatt, the former head of the British Army, said: “There must be a second vote to extend UK joining other coalition allies bombing in Syria.”
Downing Street sources said Cameron would renew his calls for Britain to extend military action into Syria when the Commons returns a week tomorrow. But he would not call a vote unless he thought he could win.