The parents of American ISIS hostage Peter Kassig released a statement via a joint Twitter account yesterday, which ends with portions of a letter they received from their son in June, NBC News reported. In the letter, the 26-year-old ex-Army Ranger is fearful for his life — but expresses little regret at travelling to Syria to aid in relief efforts related the country’s brutal civil war.
“I am obviously pretty scared to die but the hardest part is not knowing, wondering […] if I should even hope at all,” Kassig 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.”
The Kassig family’s statement opens with thanks for the support they have received from “many people around the world,” before going on to detail their son’s conversion to Islam last year, after which he changed his name to Abdul-Rahman Kassig.
“We have also received many questions about our son’s conversion to Islam. We feel a need to more fully tell that story to the world,” the release states.
After his time in the military, Kassig came to the realisation he wanted to be “a peacemaker.” He traveled to Lebanon in 2012 while on spring break from college, and later returned there as a medic and humanitarian worker.
In a letter sent that year he told his parents that despite occasional doubts, “at the end of the day this work is really the only thing that I have found that gives my life both meaning and direction.”
His words echo Henning’s, as captured in footage of the murdered aid worker taken before his own abduction last year. “It’s all worthwhile when you see what is needed actually get where it needs to go. [Any] sacrifice we do is nothing compared to what they go through every day, on a daily basis,” Henning said.
Kassig’s embrace of Islam began before his captivity — before his capture last October he observed and fasted during the holy month of Ramadan, and he fully converted while sharing a cell with a devout Syrian Muslim.
The statement asks the world “to continue to pray for him and for all innocent people harmed by violence and war.”
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