More tragedy coming out of the Middle East over the weekend. Peter Kassig, 26, is the latest victim of the escalating violence the terrorist group ISIS has claimed responsibility for. The exact date of death remains unknown, but a grisly video of the American Peter Kassig being beheaded was released on Sunday.
Kassig had converted to Islam and changed his name to Abdul Rahman Kassig. It is unknown if he legally changed his name, Kassig went missing in Syria in October of 2013. Kassig a former U.S. Army Solider, had decided to devote his life to helping those in need in the Middle East, according to his family. The Kassig family believes he died, because of his devotion to the people in that region. ISIS had been issuing warnings that Kassig would be killed. His family, friends and colleagues had been publicly appealing for mercy, obviously to no avail. His friend Michael Downey has spoken to NBC news, he said although he knew this was a possibility, “you can never really prepare for this.” Downey said he first met Kassing in Beirut, Lebanon in 2012. Both men are natives of Indiana. Kassig came to Downey’s apartment and slept on his couch for over a month. Downey said he fast became close friends with Kassing, he said he met everyone he encountered with hugs and smiles, and called everyone “brother”, when he met them. Downey said Kassing had an infectious smile, and an extremely positive attitude. Downey said that his friend was always selfless and put the needs of others ahead of his own.
He went on to say that if the people of the world were more like Kassig it would be a much better place. Downey said he had a Skype chat with him on September 27th, 2013. He mentioned that he would be going into Syria with relief items, for a second time. Downey said his friend was well aware of the risks of going into Syria brought. Kidnapping, death and carnage, but he said Kassig felt compelled to bring medical supplies to the thousands that were suffering there. Downey, said he feels it’s important for everyone not to take his friend’s death in vain, and realize one thing if nothing else. He said Kassig refused to give into fear, that ISIS has so thrived off of. He said we can learn from Kassig’s strength.
President Obama on Sunday called ISIS “pure evil”, and offered condolences to Kassig’s family and friends. The President confirmed that the victim was indeed Kassig. The video was released on Sunday, and showed an ISIS militant dressed completely in black, brandishing a knife, like he had done in similar videos in the past. The video full of propaganda, showed this masked man with a distinct British accent, spewing anti-American rhetoric. In the same video, 12 Syrian men are also beheaded. The man’s parents, Ed and Paula Kassig, released a statement from Indianapolis, that read: “We are heartbroken by Peter’s killing, but incredibly proud of his humanitarian work. He lost his life because of his love for the Syrian people.”