Monday, 17 November 2014

Peter Kassig: ‘Here, in this land, I have found my calling’.....

On the first day of October in 2013, Peter Kassig was leading a convoy carrying supplies to a hospital near Deir Ezzor, Syria. A year earlier, he had founded a humanitarian aid organization called Special Emergency Response and Assistance (SERA), and he had just used donations flowing in from the United States to purchase supplies. He knew eastern Syria was no place for Westerners — or Syrians. Still, he insisted on leading the mission to help refugees of Syria’s civil war.
He was captured at the Islamic State checkpoint in Raqqa, a stronghold for the violent group.
Word soon started to spread. His parents, Ed and Paula Kassig, heard the news through a friend, but the militants threatened to kill their son unless they kept quiet. They requested a media blackout and stayed silent for more than year.
In captivity, Kassig converted to Islam and changed his name to Abdul-Rahman.
“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,” he wrote ina letter to his parents last June. “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.”
In a video released Sunday, the Islamic State beheaded Kassig, 26, the fifth Western hostage murdered by militants on video. It came weeks after thegroup said it would kill him because of the U.S. bombing campaign in Syria.
On Sunday, his parents asked people not to focus on his murder and, instead, keep “his legacy alive.”
“We prefer our son is written about and remembered for his important work and the love he shared with friends and family, not in the manner the hostage takers would use to manipulate Americans and further their cause,” they said in a statement reported by the Indianapolis Star.
Kassig was an only child who grew up in Broad Ripple, Ind., a small town outside Indianapolis. His father taught science and his mother worked as a nurse. He ran track and played guitar. And after he graduated from high school, he reportedly joined the U.S. Army Rangers and served four months in Iraq. Then he was honorably discharged for medical reasons.
He got married and divorced. He took some college courses. He trained as an emergency medical technician. Then, in 2012, he told his parents he finally found his calling.
Kassig wanted to help others. During spring break in 2012, he flew to Lebanon while studying political science at Butler University. Then he canceled his return flight home.