Peter Kassig, 26, was taken captive a year ago while doing
humanitarian work in Syria, his family has said. He was threatened
in an Islamic State video issued on Friday that showed the beheading
of a British aid worker.
Ed and Paula Kassig of Indianapolis, Indiana, appealed for his
release on Saturday in a video message.
On Sunday, they called for people to use the name he has taken since
converting to Islam, Abdul-Rahman Kassig.
They also released photos of him working as a medic in Syria in
2013, fishing with his father on the Ohio River in southern Indiana
in 2011, and - much younger - standing in his mother's arms by a
waterfall during a family camping trip in 2000.
Kassig's parents said they were overwhelmed by the response from
those who thought their boy was a hero for the humanitarian work he
had been doing.
"We have also received many questions about our son's conversion to
Islam," they said, adding that friends said his journey toward Islam
began before he was taken captive, and that he voluntarily converted
between October and December 2013.
Quoting from a letter he wrote them in June, they said he prays five
times every day and takes the religion's practices seriously,
including adopting the name Abdul-Rahman. "We see this as part of
our son's long spiritual journey," they said.
In the parts of the letter they released, Kassig thanked his parents
and said it could not have been easy raising him.
"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.
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"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 letter added that he was in a "dogmatically complicated
situation here, but I am at peace with my belief."Kassig had been
doing humanitarian work through Special Emergency Response and
Assistance, an organization he founded in 2012 to treat refugees
from Syria, his parents have said.
They have also said their son served in the U.S. Army during the
Iraq war before being medically discharged. Pentagon records show he
spent a year in the army as a Ranger and was deployed to Iraq from
April to July 2007.
After leaving the army, Kassig became an emergency medical
technician and traveled to Lebanon in May 2012, volunteering in
hospitals and treating Palestinian refugees and those fleeing
Syria's civil war.
(Reporting by Daniel Wallis in Denver)
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