Ed and Paula Kassig of Indianapolis read a brief statement:
In 26 years, he has witnessed and experienced firsthand more of the harsh realities of life than most of us can imagine. But rather than letting the darkness overwhelm him, he has chosen to believe in the good – in himself and in others. Peter’s life is evidence that he’s been right all along – one person can make a difference.
Kassig’s parents asked for prayers for peace at sunset Monday and requested “the time and privacy to mourn, cry – and yes, forgive – and begin to heal.” A memorial service in the Muslim and Christian faiths is planned.
ISIS releases a video showing the beheading of a dozen Syrian soldiers that ends with a militant standing over a severed head he says belongs to Kassig. U.S. officials said they are working to determine the video’s authenticity. The main militant has a British accent (although the video appears to have been distorted to hide the speaker’s identity) and warns that U.S. soldiers will meet a similar fate.
We say to you, Obama: … You claim to have withdrawn from Iraq four years ago. Here you are: You have not withdrawn. Rather, you hid some of your forces behind your proxies.
The militant claims Kassig was killed because he “fought against the Muslims in Iraq, while serving as a soldier”. Kassig’s family says it is awaiting the outcome of the investigation.
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.
President Obama denounces Kassig’s murder:
[Mr. Kassig ] was taken from us in an act of pure evil by a terrorist group. Today we offer our prayers and condolences to the parents and family of Abdul-Rahman Kassig, also known to us as Peter.
He also acknowledges the “anguish at this painful time” felt by Mr. Kassig’s family.
Paula Kassig sends a third tweet to the group:
ISIS-affiliated social media users say that the group has set a deadline of Wednesday, Oct. 22, by which time it will kill Kassig. A translated Arabic-language tweet:
French journalist Henin, who shared a cell with Kassig, says he hasn’t given up hope despite ISIS’s threat to behead him:
If you have no hope whatsoever, you just can’t survive. It was surely very difficult for him to have seen us leaving. But still it means that something is going on and something positive so it helps … but then to see people taken off the cell to be killed must … be extremely hard.
Paula Kassig tweets a second message to ISIS:
Message to the men of the Islamic State in contact with my only son Abdul Rahman Kassig.
Abdul Rahman’s father and I have done all that you have asked to the greatest extent of our ability. We are humble people committed to serving others. I implore you in the name of the almighty God to communicate with us to discuss our son’s fate as he only seeks to serve God and the teachings of Islam.
Paula Kassig tweets the message to several accounts believed to be associated with Al-Baghdadi:
Kassig has become a devout Muslim, prays five times a day and fasts twice a week, and has changed his name to Abdul Rahman. Henin, who shared a cell with Kassig:
Peter converted shortly after he was captured. When I first met him [in December last year], he was already introducing himself as Abdul Rahman, which was the name he decided to take right after his conversion
He says the conversion is not due to being captured by ISIS.
Henin says that Kassig and other cellmates are regularly beaten by their ISIS captors.
Kassig’s parents release a letter that he wrote to them from captivity:
I cannot imagine the strength and commitment it has taken to raise a son like me but your love and patience are things I am so deeply grateful for. 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.
Ed and Paula Kassig release a statement about his conversion to Islam (full text here.)
Along with his Muslim colleagues, he observed the month-long Ramadan fast in July-August 2013, before his capture
Ed and Paula Kassig release the video on Youtube, with Arabic subtitles. Ed:
He grew to love and admire the Syrian people and felt at home there. Our son’s journey culminated in him embracing Islam. Sadly, he was taken captive and is not free to continue his life’s work serving the people of the region
We are so very proud of you and the work that you have done to bring humanitarian aid to the Syrian people
ISIS threatens Kassig in a tweet:
Kassig is threatened at the end of the video of Henning’s death. ISIS militant:
Obama, you have started your aerial bombardment of the Sham which keeps on striking our people. So, it is only right that we continue to strike the necks of your people.
Kassig’s family reveal that he sent them an audio message. Kassig:
[My] time [is] running out
Kassig is captured by ISIS while on his way to Deir Ezzor.
Kassig tells the magazine about forming his NGO, SERA, after he was deployed to Iraq as an Army Ranger in 2007:
I divide by time between my personal volunteer efforts, my organizations relief operations, which include the distribution of aid materials such as medical equipment and children’s clothing, as well as food and cooking materials in both Lebanon and Syria.
Kassig is profiled in a CNN interview.
We each get one life and that’s it. We get one shot at this and we don’t get any do-overs, and for me, it was time to put up or shut up. The way I saw it, I didn’t have a choice. This is what I was put here to do. I guess I am just a hopeless romantic, and I am an idealist, and I believe in hopeless causes.
I am not a doctor. I am not a nurse. But I am a guy who can clean up bandages, help clean up patients, swap out bandages, help run IVs, make people’s quality of life a little bit better,” he says. “This is something for me that has meaning, that has purpose.
There is this mentality from where I come from back home that I have a little bit of a problem with. I don’t want to get on a political soap box, but at the same time we have to think about why as a country we choose to help certain people and not others. We have to think about why we just chalk up the Middle East [as] this complex enigma that we will never understand because they are so different from us. But at the end of the day, they are really not. It’s just about whether or not you’re willing to go out on a limb and understand something.
This is real, and it’s scary stuff, and it’s sad what is happening to people here. People back home need to know about it, they need to know. Sometimes you gotta take a stand, you gotta draw a line somewhere.
After a brief tour in Iraq, Kassig is honorably discharged for medical reasons. He returns to the United States to study political science and train for 1500-meter runs.
I was going to school with kids who look the same, were the same age as me, but we weren’t the same. I wanted more of a challenge, a sense of purpose.
After graduating from North Central High School, Kassig joins the U.S. Army Rangers.
Peter Edward Kassig is born and raised in Indianapolis.