The brother of murdered aid worker David Haines said he is prepared to stare down the so-called Islamic State terrorists accused of murdering his sibling when he comes face-to-face with them for the first time in court.
Mike Haines is in the US to read a victim impact statement as Londoner Alexanda Kotey is sentenced for his role in the terror cell’s murder of four hostages.
The group, dubbed The Beatles due to their English accents, was said to be made up of ringleader Mohammed Emwazi, known as Jihadi John, Aine Davis, El Shafee Elsheikh and Kotey, and was responsible for the brutal killings of a number of Western captives, believed to include Britons Alan Henning and David Haines.
The charges against Kotey, and his co-accused Elsheikh, who was convicted after trial this month, only feature US victims, but both he and Elsheikh will appear in court in Virginia on Friday when the families of those murdered by the terror cell address the judge on their collective loss.
Elsheikh is expected to be sentenced at a later date.
Mr Haines, an RAF veteran and former mental health nurse, said: “In some ways obviously I am quite nervous, and in other ways I am looking forward to staring them in the face, to drawing a line behind what has happened.
“And that is the real reason (for) going out to read my impact statement to the court – to draw a line in the sand and say: ‘Yes, you have played a big part in my family’s life, you have had a hold on my family’s life.
“‘However, now, that stops’.”
And in an extraordinary demonstration of his rejection of hatred, Mr Haines added: “What I would like to hear, although I don’t think it will ever happen, is for Kotey to say: ‘I’m sorry, what we were doing was wrong.’
“And if that was to happen, (for him to say) ‘What we were doing was not about Islam … it was about the spread of terror’, then I would actually shake his hand.”
Elsheikh, Kotey and Emwazi all knew each other in England before joining IS.
Elsheikh was captured alongside Kotey in Syria in 2018 by the US-supported Syrian Democratic Forces while trying to escape to Turkey.
‘Look him in the eyes’
Davis was jailed in Turkey and Emwazi was killed in a drone strike, while Kotey last year pleaded guilty to eight counts relating to his involvement in the hostage plot.
Mr Haines, from Dundee in Scotland, said he would cherish the opportunity to sit down with Kotey to “look him in the eyes and tell him he has been misguided”.
Mr Haines’ 44-year-old younger brother was captured by militants in Syria in March 2013 while delivering aid to the war-torn country.
His murder the following year sent shockwaves around the world when a video recording of his barbaric execution was used as propaganda by the Beatles.
The family still do not know what has happened to the body.
Read more: Who are the Islamic State fighters nicknamed ‘The Beatles’?
But Mr Haines, who runs education charity Global Acts Of Unity in honour of his brother, said it is “not important” for him to find out where David’s remains are.
“Wherever David’s remains lie, whatever has been done to them … David walks with me still,” he said.
“At the end of the presentation, I can feel him pat me on the back and say: ‘Nice one.’
“My brother walks with me still I don’t need his remains to mourn over.”
Mr Haines, 55, said he continues to be affected by terror attacks around the globe, and was actually in Manchester the night of the Arena suicide bomb which killed 22 people in 2017.
He said: “Every time we hear of an attack, there is sadness in our hearts, because we know that this club that we belong to has just expanded – that club that nobody wants to be a part of who’ve had family members and loved ones injured, maimed or murdered in an act of terrorism.
“However, what we have seen over and over and over again is the way that people respond to attacks of terror.
“What we try to do with Global Acts of Unity is show that if we react with hate, the extremists and terrorists win. And they will not win.”
Kotey is expected to be given a life sentence but could yet be brought to the UK to face trial over the deaths of Mr Haines and Mr Henning.