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Islamic State Video Shows Execution Of British Aid Worker

LYNN NEARY, HOST:

There is more grim news this morning from the terror group calling itself the Islamic State, or ISIS. Another video has surfaced that shows the beheading of British citizen, David Haines. Haines is the aid worker who was taken hostage last year in Syria. He is the third Westerner beheaded in recent weeks by the Islamic State. And like previous videos, this newest one appears to name another Western hostage as a future target. Prime Minister David Cameron condemned the beheading this morning at a news conference in London.

(SOUNDBITE OF NEWS CONFERENCE)

PRIME MINISTER DAVID CAMERON: David has been murdered in the most callous and brutal way imaginable by an organization which is the embodiment of evil. We will hunt down those responsible and bring them to justice, no matter how long it takes.

NEARY: Steve Erlanger, London bureau chief for The New York Times joins us now from London. Thanks for joining us, Steven.

STEVE ERLANGER: Happy to do it.

NEARY: How similar would you say this video is to the ones we've seen before?

ERLANGER: It's almost the same. It appears to have the same British-accented Jihadi in a black clothing and a mask, brandishing a knife and then showing a corpse afterward. So it's very much the same model. And again, you have the victim, in this case, David Haines, giving a statement which seems to have been practiced condemning David Cameron for his acts in helping the Kurds fight ISIS.

NEARY: Now of course this video, similar to the videos in the past which seem to be a challenge to President Obama - this one seem to be a direct challenge to the British prime minister. He spoke this morning. What is he saying? How is the British government going to respond to this?

ERLANGER: Well, they have talked a big game about ISIS, but they've been a little bit reluctant to get too involved. A year ago Cameron wanted to bomb Syria along with Obama on chemical weapons, and Parliament said no. He says he can do - that he is authorized to do what he needs to do against ISIS, but so far the British have only been supplying military equipment to the Kurds. They have not joined the Americans in bombing ISIS. I'm sure he's under pressure to do so because, after all, a British hostage has been executed apparently by a British Jihadi with another British hostage lined up to be next. So there's a lot of pressure on Cameron.

NEARY: Of course the president - President Obama has called for a coalition. Is Britain going to be part of this coalition to fight ISIS?

ERLANGER: Well, it says that it is already, and indeed it has been helping the Kurds. The question for the British is how far they want to get involved. The Americans have said no boots on the ground. The Britains have said no boots on the ground.

So they're looking for local allies. The problem they have, obviously, is the Kurds are pretty well organized in the Peshmerga already. There aren't similar allies in Iraq and Syria that have the same kind of unity and training. After all, these - both the United States and Britain have not done very much to support the moderate Syrian resistance to Assad which is the very groups they now want to rely on to help defeat ISIS.

NEARY: Steve Erlanger is the London bureau chief for The New York Times. Thanks so much, Steven.

ERLANGER: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.