A British woman who watched her dad beheaded on camera by terrorist ‘Jihadi John’ has spoken of returning to his death site in a bid to find his grave.
Bethany Haines, 23, was just 16 when her father and humanitarian aid worker David Haines, 44, was kidnapped by terrorists in Syria in 2013.
More than a year later, terror group ISIS released a propaganda video of him being executed by Mohammed Emwazi – aka ‘Jihadi John’.
Brave Bethany told podcast Real Fix of the moment she watched the video for herself – and was physically sick.
She also revealed to the podcast – which helps people share their own extraordinary stories – how she visited the hills of Raqqa, Syria, herself, in a bid for answers.
Bethany, a student, from Perth, Scotland, told Realfix: “I found the spot where I think my dad was executed.
“I really wanted to see that spot and visit it because I think the remains are close to there.
“It was also a chance for me to go and see what my dad did.
“I had never really been to a country in a crisis and I’d never seen the aftermath of war first hand and I wanted to see what drove my dad to do this kind of thing, given the dangers.
“I also wanted to see the type of people he was helping as it had been so widely known about ISIS’ atrocities, I wanted to see who he was helping and it was one of the best things I’ve ever done.
“I’m planning my next trip back so it was such an incredible experience.
“I just had this feeling that I was right, this is where it happened and I felt really close to my dad which I hadn’t felt since I was told he had been killed so it was a big comfort to know that this is where he is, it’s not an awful place.
“A lot of people out there are trying to get him back as well.
“I spoke to several Jihadi brides.
“I think everyone’s aware of the perception of them and I just wanted to hear it first hand from them and whether they knew anything about my dad now they had been removed from the situation.
“Each of their experiences and even their personas and personalities were so different from one another.”
David was working as a humanitarian aid worker at a camp for local people forced to flee their homes when he was kidnapped on March 12 2013.
Bethany found out a month later on April 6, and initially was told to keep quiet about the abduction, for fear of scuppering rescue efforts.
His execution was filmed and released in 2014.
He was murdered, with fellow aid worker Alan Henning, by the so-called “Beatles” cell of four British militants.
Bethany told the podcast how people would ask her about the footage, and question its authenticity, so she locked herself in a bathroom, and watched the footage.
She told the weekly podcast: “At first when you see it all, I thought ‘this is too good [quality] to be real’.
“At first I was like ‘oh ok, yes whatever, they aren’t actually going to do it’.
“And it was more coming towards the end, and the way they were talking, and the speech my dad gave, and it was almost the look in his eye that kind of told me ‘you know what this is actually real’.
“And I was more angry than anything else and when the final scene cut out to his remains it was more – I think i was physically sick that day with it.
“After that it was more anger. I thought ‘this isn’t right’.
“It is something that will always stay with me.”
After turning to self harm and alcohol to soothe the pain of her father’s loss, Bethany gave birth to a baby boy, Aiden, now five, which she said gave her a new purpose.
She said: “I felt really lost after my dad’s death, I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know what my life could be after it. How does someone get over something like that?
“My son looks so much like my dad it was like he was giving me something to live for because he’d been taken away.
“It was really perfect timing because it directed me away from this party lifestyle, distracting me from reality.
“He knows now about his grandad and he will always be a part of his life.”
Jihadi John was killed on November 12th 2015 in a drone airstrike.
Bethany told the final episode of series one of the podcast hat she would have liked to say to him.
She said: “There’s a part of me that would have really liked the opportunity to have seen him in an interview or to have been able to speak to him personally to get a feel of who he was and how he came to the point to do this kind of thing.”
In 2019, she made the journey out to Syria to retrace her father’s last movements.
She met workers at the camp where her father worked, went to the site her dad was killed, and the place Emwazi was killed in a drone strike in 2015.
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