Peter Edward Kassig, the latest hostage to be threatened with beheading by the Islamic State extremist group, was abducted in Lebanon last year while leading a humanitarian mission for Syrian refugees.
After urging the Islamic State to release their son in a YouTube video, the former Army Ranger’s parents released a letter written by Kassig earlier this year, in which he expresses his fear of death but where he also explains that he was at peace with converting to Islam.
According to his parents, Kassig had voluntarily converted to Islam between October and December 2013, after sharing a cell with a Syrian Muslim. Kassig would, as his parents say, take Islam’s practices seriously, including daily prayers as well as taking the name Abdul Rahman.
The 26-year-old former Army Ranger thanked his parents for their strength and commitment in his letter, and appeared to try and prepare them for the eventuality of 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. 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.”
Kassig wrote in his letter.
ISIS made it clear that Kassig would be the next hostage to lose his life after Alan Henning was beheaded last week.
“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.”
Kassig continues in the letter.
His parents explain that Kassig had formed an aid organization called Special Emergency Response and Assistance in Turkey, which provided aid to Syrian refugees. He delivered food and medical supplies to Syrian refugees but also provided trauma care to injured civilians. They also explain that the former Army Ranger had grown to respect the Syrian people after having grown up in a family with a long history in humanitarian work.
“Our son was living his life according to that same humanitarian call when he was taken captive,”
his father said.
Kassig served from June 2006 to September 2007 as a member of the 75th Ranger regiment. He also served four months in Iraq before being medically discharged.