Soldier-turned-Humanitarian Abdul-Rahman Kassig Murdered by IS Executioner
November 17, 2014
BBC & The Telegraph
US President Barack Obama has condemned the killing of US aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig as "an act of pure evil". Mr. Kassig, 26, was taken while working for a refugee group. He is the fifth Western hostage to be killed by IS, which controls parts of Syria and Iraq. Mr. Kassig's parents, Ed and Paula, from Indiana, said in a statement they were heartbroken by his death. "We are incredibly proud of our son for living his life according to his humanitarian calling," they said. "We will work every day to keep his legacy alive as best we can."
(November 16, 2014) -- US President Barack Obama has condemned the killing of US aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig as "an act of pure evil". The Islamic State (IS) militant group released a video showing a masked man standing over a severed head, which the White House confirmed was Mr. Kassig. His parents said he died "as a result of his love for the Syrian people".
Mr. Kassig, 26, was taken while working for a refugee group. He is the fifth Western hostage to be killed by IS, which controls parts of Syria and Iraq.
The president praised Mr. Kassig as a humanitarian and said he was "taken from us in an act of pure evil by a terrorist group that the world rightly associates with inhumanity . . . . Today we grieve together, yet we also recall that the indomitable spirit of goodness and perseverance that burned so brightly in Abdul-Rahman Kassig," he said.
Mr. Obama's comments came as he flew back to the US from the G20 summit in Australia.
Mr. Kassig's parents, Ed and Paula, from Indiana, said in a statement they were heartbroken by his death. "We are incredibly proud of our son for living his life according to his humanitarian calling," they said. "We will work every day to keep his legacy alive as best we can."
The other Western hostages killed by IS were Britons Alan Henning and David Haines, and US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff.
Those killings were carried out by a man believed to be British. That man bears a resemblance to one of the masked militants pictured in the video showing Mr. Kassig.
Unlike previous videos released by IS, the latest one shows the faces of many of the jihadis and specifies its location -- Dabiq in Syria's Aleppo province.
It also shows the beheading of 18 Syrian captives, who are identified as army officers and pilots.
* Former US Army Ranger who served in Iraq in 2007
*Trained as an emergency medical technician and founded an organisation to supply refugee camps in Syria
*Snatched in October 2013 while travelling in eastern Syria for a project
*Changed his name from Peter Kassig when he converted to Islam in late 2013
Abdul-Rahman Kassig in His Own Words
(November 16, 2014) -- Abdul-Rahman Kassig, also known as Peter, stayed in touch with loved ones throughout his stay in the Middle East -- including his captivity -- in which he spoke movingly about his work. Below are excerpts from his writings released by his family.
Email from Beirut, 18 March 2012
Here, in this land, I have found my calling. I have lived a selfish life, I have run until I could not run anymore.
I do not know much, every day that I am here I have more questions and less answers, but what I do know is that I have a chance to do something here, to take a stand. To make a difference.
Email to professors and mentors, March 2012
I may never be a hero, but there is beauty in survival and grace in finding a way to live amongst hardship even if there is no silver lining.
To attain a pureness of spirit I must never stop working to improve myself. It is okay to be happy and content but satisfaction and complacency should be guarded against at all costs.
Email to a friend, May 2012
How will I tell you of the walls riddled with bullets and the flowers that grow over them? (…)
War never ends, it just moves around. But we will be there too and when they come so will we.
Loss and destruction in this land brings about only survival; the determination to press on and rebuild (...)
To rubble and dust and back again. There's just nothing else. I can't be sure but I think I'm starting believe that as beautiful as it is to finish building a house, it's a better feeling laying the first brick again after its been torn down.
Letter to parents from captivity, early 2014
We have been held together, us foreigners (...) Mentally I am pretty sure this is the hardest thing a man can go through, the stress and fear are incredible but I am coping as best I can. I am not alone. I have friends, we laugh, we play chess, we play trivia to stay sharp, and we share stories and dreams of home and loved ones (...)
They tell us you have abandoned us and/or don't care but of course we know you are doing everything you can and more. Don't worry Dad, if I do go down, I won't go thinking anything but what I know to be true. That you and mom love me more than the moon & the stars.
I am obviously pretty scared to die but the hardest part is not knowing, wondering, hoping, and wondering if I should even hope at all. I am very sad that all this has happened and for what all of you back home are going through. If I do die, I figure that at least you and I can seek refuge and comfort in knowing that I went out as a result of trying to alleviate suffering and helping those in need.
US Army Veteran Peter Kassig Murdered by ISIL
Andrew Marszal, Rob Crilly and Louisa Loveluck / The Telegraph
(November 16, 2014) -- Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters have issued a new video apparently showing the murder of US hostage Peter Kassig and threatening "slaughter" on Western streets. The 15-minute long grisly video shows the horrific beheading a group of Syrian military prisoners and then the decapitated head of Mr. Kassig at the feet of a masked man. The man, who appears to be the same militant known as Jihadi John who has appeared in other beheading videos, says: "This is Peter Edward Kassig, a US citizen."
He also denounces David Cameron as a puppet of the United States president:
He says: "To Obama, the dog of Rome. Today we are slaughtering the soldiers of Bashar and tomorrow we will be slaughtering your soldiers and with Allah’s permission we will break this final and last crusade and the Islamic State will soon, like your puppet David Cameron said, begin to slaughter your people on your streets." [For a complete transcript of the video, see accompanying posting on today's Breaking News -- EAW.]
The chilling video, titled 'Although the Disbelievers Dislike It', shows the brutal murders of around 16 Syrian soldiers in graphic detail. Mr. Kassig's death would be the fifth beheading of a Westerner apparently carried out by violent extremists of ISIL.
Ed and Paula Kassig, parents of Peter Kassig, who changed his name in captivity to Abdul-Rahman, said:
"We are aware of the news reports being circulated about our treasured son and are waiting for confirmation from the government as to the authenticity of these reports. We will have no other statement at this time and ask that you please respect our privacy.
"The family respectfully asks that the news media avoid playing into the hostage takers’ hands and refrain from publishing or broadcasting photographs or video distributed by the hostage takers. We prefer our son is written about and remembered for his important work and the love he shared with friends and family, not in the manner the hostage takers would use to manipulate Americans and further their cause."
David Cameron said: "I'm horrified by the cold blooded murder of Abdul-Rahman Kassig. ISIL have again shown their depravity. My thoughts are with his family."
The White House said: "We are aware of a video that claims to show the murder of US citizen Peter Kassig by ISIL. . . . The intelligence community is working as quickly as possible to determine its authenticity. If confirmed, we are appalled by the brutal murder of an innocent America aid worker and express our deepest condolences to his family and friends."
Mr. Kassig, 26, served in the American military and was deployed to Iraq in 2007 with the US Army Rangers, developing a deep interest in the Middle East.
After an honourable discharge, he moved to Beirut and set up a medical charity, which specialised in delivering aid to refugee camps. He was taken hostage in October last year during a trip to deliver food and medical supplies to Deir Ezzour in eastern Syria
Like other families, his parents initially observed a media silence. But when video emerged last month showing Mr. Kassig wearing an orange jumpsuit in the ISIL murder video of Alan Henning, a British taxi driver, they launched a very public campaign to persuade his captors to release him.
Ed and Paula Kassig, from Indianapolis, issued their own video message describing how their son had converted to Islam -- taking the name Abdul Rahman Kassig -- and that other captives had told them his faith brought him comfort.
Mrs. Kassig said: "Our hearts ache for you to be granted your freedom so that we can hug you again and then set you free to continue the life you have chosen, the life of service to those in gravest [need]." They also set up a Twitter account to send messages to his captors.
"I am an old woman, and Abdul Rahman is my only child. My husband and I are on our own, with no help from the government," wrote Mrs. Kassig. "We would like to talk to you. How can we reach you?"
Their campaign included releasing a letter sent by their son, describing his terrifying ordeal. "I am obviously pretty scared to die but the hardest part is not knowing, wondering, hoping, and wondering if I should even hope at all," he wrote. "If I do die, I figure that at least you and I can seek refuge and comfort in knowing that I went out as a result of trying to alleviate suffering and helping those in need."
They also joined worshippers at a mosque in the to pray for his release. Their actions follow complaints by Mr. Henning's family that they were "gagged" by the British government, which they said could have done more to secure his release.
Mr. Kassig's death would be the latest murder following two American journalists -- James Foley, Steven Sotloff -- and two British aid workers -- David Haines and Mr. Henning. A third Briton, John Cantlie, an award-winning photographer is still being held. His skills have been used by ISIL to deliver a string of propaganda messages.
Analysts suspect the gruesome nature of the beheadings and their accompanying videos are part of a complex media campaign designed to breed revulsion in the West and draw the US and its allies deeper into conflict.
The 16-minute long video also charts ISIL's rise to its position as a dominant player among international jihadist groups. At one point, a map flashes on the screen, showing the location of Islamic State affiliates across the Middle East, including Egypt's restive Sinai Peninsula, Algeria, Yemen and Libya.
"The era of division has passed," says the narrator, calling on other groups to pledge allegiance to their case.
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