The parents of former US Army Ranger Peter Kassig recorded a heartbreaking video plea for their son to be released from ISIS captivity Saturday, just one day after the militant group reportedly executed British hostage Alan Henning and threatened Kassig as its next potential victim.
“Our family deplores all human suffering and the loss of innocent life, no matter who is responsible,” his father Ed Kassig says in a nearly three-minute message alongside his wife Paula. “We respond by trying to provide aid and assistance. Our son was living his life according to that same humanitarian call when he was taken captive.”
A native of Indiana, Peter Kassig, 26, was working to help Syrian refugees by providing medical and humanitarian support with a group he founded called Special Emergency Response and Assistance (SERA), according to Time. In the video message, Ed Kassig says Peter was affected by what he saw in Syria and ultimately changed his name to Abdul Rahman and converted to Islam.
He was abducted near Raqqa, the de-facto capital of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS), on Oct. 1, 2013, according to his father.
SERA was founded by Kassig in late 2012 along with his friend Eliot Stempf. According to an article from Reed College, the pair lived together in Turkey and frequently crossed over into Syria to help train locals to become emergency first responders. In the video, Ed Kassig says his son helped train 150 civilians in this capacity.
“We’ve asked our government to change its actions,” Kassig says, “but like our son, we have no more control over the US government than you have over the breaking of dawn.”
Once his father is finished with the message toward his captors, his mother Paula speaks directly to her son:
“Please know that we are all praying for you and your safe return. Most of all know that we love you, and our hearts ache for you to be granted your freedom so we can hug you again and then set you free to continue the life you had chosen, the life of service to those in greatest need.”
“We implore those who are holding you to show mercy and use their power to let you go,” she adds.
Kassig joined the Army in 2006 and served with the elite 75th Ranger Regiment but was medically discharged as a private first class after his deployment to Iraq in 2007, Army officials told The Washington Post. He went on to Butler University in Indiana and became certified as an emergency medical technician in 2010.
In its latest video release titled “Another Message to American and its Allies,” the ISIS militant who purportedly executed Alan Henning tells President Obama since the US aerial bombardment has started in Syria, “it’s only right we continue to strike the neck of your people.”
The latest ISIS video follows a similar format of previous releases that showed the execution of journalists James Foley and Stephen Sotloff, and British aid worker David Haines. Before their deaths, the family of David Haines begged ISIS “to make contact with us,” while the wife of Alan Henning and mother of Stephen Sotloff both asked mercy for their loved ones.
ISIS later responded only with brutal videos of their deaths along with threats of more to come.
Here is the family’s video:
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