With ‘Battered Hearts,’ Kassig’s Parents Address Media

The Indianapolis native and former Butler student is the fifth Westerner to be beheaded by the Islamic State. President Barack Obama called his killing ”an act of pure evil.”

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Photo by Lindsey Stevens

Despite mourning the Islamic State’s gruesome killing of their son, Abdul-Rahman Kassig, Paula and Ed Kassig appeared composed as they delivered a statement to the media on Monday regarding the 26-year-old Indianapolis native’s legacy.

“Our hearts are battered, but they will mend,” Paula said at Epworth United Methodist Church on the city’s northeast side. “The world is broken, but it will be healed in the end. And good will prevail as the One God of many names will prevail.”

Ed asked the community to “pray for Abdul-Rahman, or Pete if that is how you knew him, at sunset this evening. Pray also for all people in Syria, Iraq, and around the world who are held against their will.”

A video purporting to show the aftermath of Abdul-Rahman’s beheading was released Sunday morning. Soon after, a U.S. official confirmed the video’s authenticity.

On Monday at the briefing, the Kassigs also requested “the time and privacy to mourn, cry, and yes, forgive, and begin to heal.” They did not take questions from media members present.

A family spokesperson said that in the next few days the family will begin planning a joint Christian-Muslim memorial service. Tomorrow at 4 p.m., Hanover College, one of Kassig’s alma maters (he also attended Butler University), will cancel all activities and classes for a “Prayers for Peace” service to honor the former student.

President Barack Obama, in a statement sent from Air Force One and read aloud to Washington media, said Kassig “was taken from us in an act of pure evil by a terrorist group.” He also decried the fact that Islamic State operatives killed a fellow Muslim, a discredit to their alleged objectives.

In a statement released by the family on Sunday, the Kassigs asked people to focus on their son’s humanitarian work, not his death:

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.

While working as a humanitarian aid worker in Syria, Abdul-Rahman was captured on Oct. 1, 2013. Almost a year later, on October 3, 2014, the Islamic State released a video announcing that Kassig was to be beheaded by October 22. That deadline came and went, leaving hope that the young man’s life would be spared. He is the fifth Westerner to be beheaded by the Islamic State, along with three military members and another aid worker.

The family’s spokesperson said that the Kassigs are acquainted with, and have received support from, the other American families whose loved ones were killed by the Islamic State.

Said Ed, “Our hearts, though heavy, are held up by the love and support that has poured into our lives these last few weeks.”

 

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