Report: ISIS Claims Kassig's Killing; Parents Share Statement
Editor’s Note, November 16, 2014: This story will be updated. New York Times journalist Rukmini Callimachi says a U.S. official has confirmed Kassig’s death.
Just in: A US official has confirmed that the ISIS video showing Kassig's corpse is authentic. A terrible day.
— Rukmini Callimachi (@rcallimachi) November 16, 2014
Indianapolis mayor Greg Ballard has also addressed the news:
The world lost a man of peace at the hands of fanatics. Our prayers go w/ Abdul-Rahman Kassig, his friends/family & those fighting terrorism
— Mayor Greg Ballard (@MayorBallard) November 16, 2014
Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) leaders have released a new, almost-16-minute video depicting the mass executions of captives, including Syrian troops. The group also claimed to have killed 26-year-old Abdul-Rahman Kassig (born Peter Kassig), an Indianapolis native, Iraq War veteran, and international aid worker. In the video, a masked, black-clad ISIS operative purports to show Kassig’s severed head. In response to the report of their son’s death, Ed and Paula Kassig released a statement:
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.
Ed and Paula Kassig previously pleaded for their son’s life in a video message aimed at his ISIS captors:
Richard Engel, chief international correspondent for NBC News, reported on Meet the Press this morning that he viewed the ISIS video and found it to be valid. At the same time, the White House was seeking to confirm the death. Kassig then became the fifth Western captive to be killed by ISIS.
On October 3, ISIS announced in an online video that Kassig would be its next beheading target. A media representative for the group said that if America did not stop attacking ISIS-controlled areas, Kassig would be killed by October 22, but that supposed deadline passed. ISIS captured Kassig on October 1, 2013, while the North Central graduate was an aid worker in war-torn Syria. During captivity, Kassig completed his conversion to Islam, changed his name, and participated in Ramadan last fall. Kassig graduated from high school in 2006, and then attended Hanover College from 2007 to 2009 after serving in the Iraq War. In 2011, he enrolled at Butler University and visited Lebanon during the 2012 spring break. Later that year, he founded Special Emergency Response and Assistance (SERA), a nongovernmental organization that provides food, medical care, and clothing for refugees of the Syrian conflict.
Ed Kassig, speaking at an October 17 prayer vigil at Alhuda Foundation in Fishers, one of the public events in support of his son, said of him: “When others headed for the beach, he went to Beirut.”