ISIS designates next beheading victim: ex-Army Ranger Peter Kassig, Muslim convert
By: John Hayward/Human Events
Friday night’s ISIS beheading video documented the murder of British aid worker Alan Henning, father of two teenage children, whose “crime” was volunteering to drive a truck full of food and medical supplies to refugees from the Syrian civil war. The UK Daily Mail has the transcript of the video, which starred the English-speaking masked terrorist known as “Jihad John”:
Alan Henning: ‘I am Alan Henning. Because of our parliament’s decision to attack the Islamic state I as a member of the British public will now pay the price for that decision.’
Jihadi John: ‘The blood of David Haines was on your hands Cameron, Alan Henning will also be slaughtered but his blood is on the hands of the British parliament.’
Jihadi John then steps forward to cut Mr Henning’s throat and his body is shown lying on the floor.
Peter Kassig is then shown kneeling next to Jihadi John.
Jihadi John: ‘Obama you have started your aerial bombardment in Sham (Syria) which keeps on striking our people, so it’s only right we continue to strike the necks of your people.’
The Daily Mail reports that Henning’s family is furious with the British government, which they say was aware of their citizen’s capture for “months and months,” but did not mount a rescue effort. Perhaps motivated by growing public sentiment along these lines, Prime Minister David Cameron called all of the British intelligence services together for a meeting in which he instructed them to prioritize locating and capturing or killing Jihad John and his crew.
They’ll get a brief respite before any more Britons are threatened, because the next designated beheading victim, mentioned in the transcript of the video above, is Peter Kassig, an American aid worker who was also taken prisoner while delivering relief supplies to victims of the Syrian civil war. Fox News reports that Kassig’s family has decided to publicly release a letter he sent them from captivity:
Ed and Paula Kassig said in a statement Sunday that they had been told by a former hostage that their son Peter had voluntarily converted to Islam sometime between October and December of last year when he shared a cell with a Syrian Muslim. They said that their son “took Islam’s practices seriously, including praying the five daily prayers and taking on the name Abdul-Rahman.”
The Kassigs also released a letter written by their 26-year-old son in which he thanked them for their strength and commitment and appeared to try to prepare them for his death.
“I am obviously pretty scared to die but the hardest part is not knowing, wondering, hoping, and wondering if I should even hope at all,” Kassig said in the letter, according to his parents. “I am very sad that all this has happened and for what all of you back home are going through. 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.”
These developments must be very confusing to Afsun Qureshi, who in August published an article at Canada’s National Post advising kidnap victims to recite the Muslim prayer of submission to Allah, known as the shahadah, to avoid beheading. It’s not being widely reported in American media, but the Daily Mail says Kassig took the name “Abdul Rahman” when he converted. That didn’t do him much good, either. ISIS didn’t even use that name when they indicated he would be their net victim.
The letter continues: “In terms of my faith, I pray every day and I am not angry about my situation in that sense. I am in a dogmatically complicated situation here, but I am at peace with my belief.”
The Kassigs say the complication appears to arise from his conversion but that they see this “as part our son’s long spiritual journey.”
There shouldn’t be anything “dogmatically complicated” about this situation at all, as President Barack Obama has clearly stated the Islamic State is not Islamic in any way, shape, or form. Was no one paying attention when he said that?
Like so many of ISIS’ captives, Kassig is a dedicated humanitarian who made a tremendous effort to help civilians swept up in the Syrian bloodshed. ISIS evidently had a field day grabbing these aid workers, or purchasing them from more “moderate” elements of the Syrian resistance.
According to the family, Kassig formed the aid organization Special Emergency Response and Assistance, or SERA, in Turkey to provide aid and assistance to Syrian refugees. He began delivering food and medical supplies to Syrian refugee camps in 2012 and is also a trained medical assistant who provided trauma care to injured Syrian civilians and helped train 150 civilians in providing medical aid.
In Saturday’s video statement, Ed Kassig said his son had grown “to love and admire” the Syrian people, after growing up in an Indianapolis family with a long history of humanitarian work and teaching.
“Our son was living his life according to that same humanitarian call when he was taken captive,” Ed, a teacher himself, said.
Kassig served in the Army from June 2006 and September 2007. He was a member of the 75th Ranger regiment and served four months in Iraq in 2007 before being medically discharged at the rank of private first class in September of that year.
He’s only 26 years old, and he’s already served as an Army ranger and formed his own humanitarian aid group. One such person is worth the life of every miserable bag of slime marching under the black banner. The SERA group reportedly suspended its humanitarian efforts while working to secure its founder’s release, so there’s another load of human misery that can be laid at the feet of ISIS.
The New York Daily News says that Kassig’s kidnappers instructed his family to remain quiet about his capture as a condition of negotiating for his release. They’re still pleading for his life to be spared, but his appearance in the latest jihadi snuff film shows that respecting the conditions set forth by the terror state didn’t get them anywhere.
TheNYDN has more details of Kassig’s background, and his decision to form a Syrian aid group. He studied at Butler University for a while after his medical discharge from the Army, was briefly married, and began looking for a higher purpose in life while battling depression after his divorce:
“I needed to make a drastic decision,” he said. “It was a huge identity thing; it was time to reevaluate. I needed a game-changer.”
He decided to volunteer in a Palestinian refugee camp in South Beirut and a hospital in Lebanon.
“We each get one life and that’s it,” the dedicated war vet said. “We got one shot at this and we don’t get any do-overs, and for me, it was time to put up or shut up. The way I saw it, I didn’t have a choice. This is what I was put here to do. I guess I am just a hopeless romantic, and I am an idealist, and I believe in hopeless causes.”
In February 2013, Kassig told Syria Deeply that his aid group SERA needed more funds to keep their relief efforts going.
And he spoke of why he gave aid instead of continuing to pick up a gun.
“Sometimes rebels want to know if I will help train people or if I will join the fight. I always tell them no,” he said. “It is of course not that I do not feel terrible for the civilians that are suffering in Syria, but … for an American young man in my position that would be foolish, and regarded as such by pretty much everyone, including the opposition.
“I can either be in a position to deliver tens of thousands of dollars of antibiotics for women and children, or I can be another young man with a gun.”
And then the young men with guns decided to take him prisoner and queue him up as the next victim for their videotaped ritual executions. The former soldier said he began working on humanitarian missions to the Middle East to better understand his “role in the conflict in Iraq and its impact on the Middle East in general from a personal perspective and from the perspective of the Arab world.” He has that understanding now, but it’s probably nothing like the lesson he expected to learn.
The official response to his plight has been more of the passive-aggressive drivel we’ve come to expect. “This is again yet another just very clear example of the brutality of this group, and why the president has articulated and is moving out in a comprehensive way to degrade and destroy ISIL,” said Obama counter-terrorism adviser Lisa Monaco. Yes, she made sure to work Obama’s trademarked political catch-phrase “degrade and destroy” in there, but she forgot to say “ultimately destroy.” I hope she doesn’t get in trouble for that.
“This is an unimaginably devastating situation for any parent to endure. My prayers are with Peter’s parents at this terrible time … I ask for respect of the Kassig family’s privacy as they seek to navigate this heartbreaking situation,” said Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN), who represents the Kassigs’ home state. He makes it sound like the poor fellow contracted Ebola, rather than being threatened with brutal execution by the military enemies of the United States.
Actually, it would be more accurate to say that ISIS is making progress in its plans to degrade and ultimately destroy Iraq, as they’ve made fresh territorial gains despite weeks of aimless bombing – they’re “moving freely in Abu Ghraib,” keeping Iraqi troops penned up in the notorious military base, which means they can begin shelling Baghdad soon if they’re not dislodged. They’re still beheading hostages left and right. They’ve made strides toward reconciliation with their rivals in al-Qaeda, which the director of the FBI says should be able to strike the United States “very very soon.” That’s why the Obama Administration renamed them “the Khorasan Group,” in the hopes American voters are too dumb to realize it’s the same people Obama boasted about routing during his re-election campaign.
The only real objective of this non-war was to goose Barack Obama’s flagging poll numbers. If ISIS murders another American hostage, or makes a strong play to take Baghdad, not even that objective will be fulfilled.