After a lull of several weeks, ISIS seems to have resumed its brutal killings of captive hostages. In a new video posted online by the group, they claim to have executed 26-year-old American aid worker Peter Kassig who was in ISIS captivity since 2013, reports ABC News. Unlike previous videos though, the actual beheading is not shown. Towards the end of the 16-minute video, a militant is seen standing near the severed head of what he claims to be Peter Kassig. If the reports of the death of Peter Kassig turn out to be true, he would be the fifth Westerner to have been killed by ISIS since they began the series of beheadings in August this year.
In a chilling message to the United States and to anyone against the ISIS, the militant shown in the video speaks in a polished British accent.
"This is Peter Edward Kassig, a U.S. citizen, of your country; Peter who fought against the Muslims in Iraq, while serving as a soldier."
The video claims to have been taken in the small town of Dabiq in northern Syria, not far from the Turkish border. Notably, this is the only video in which the murdered hostage is not shown alive before the beheading, according to Businessweek.
Peter Kassig was a former Army Ranger who worked as an aid worker. He served in the army until 2007, before being honorably discharged for medical reasons. He was abducted by ISIS militants while traveling in eastern Syria. After his stint in the military, Kassig founded an NGO in 2012. Known as SERA (Special Emergency Response and Assistance), the aim of the aid organization was to source and deliver food and medical supplies to refugee camps situated on the Syrian-Turkish border. He also worked as an emergency medical technician in Lebanon prior to his founding of SERA.
In a statement issued by the parents of Peter Kassig, they have announced that they are aware of the reports of their son's death, and that they are awaiting confirmation from the government. Kassig's parents previously said that Peter had converted to Islam (most likely under duress) and changed his name to Abdul-Rahman. Peter Kassig had also managed to write a letter to them in which he said that he genuinely feared for his life.
"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."
Meanwhile, officials from the National Security Council are trying to ascertain the authenticity of the video that shows the severed head of Peter Kassig.
In a statement, Bernadette Meehan, the NSC spokesperson, said, "If confirmed, we are appalled by the brutal murder of an innocent American aid worker and we express our deepest condolences to his family and friends."
The 16-minute video released today also shows the beheadings of several men who, according to ISIS, were Syrian soldiers fighting against them. The video warns other soldiers fighting against them, reminding that they will meet the same fate as Kassig.
This is the first video released by the ISIS showing the killing of a western hostage in about a month. The last time they did the same was on October 3, when the video of the killing of British aid worker Alan Henning was released. Prior to that, American journalist James Foley, Steven Sotloff, and David Haines were beheaded by ISIS.
Several world leaders have come out and condemned the killing of Peter Kassig.
[Image via ABC News]