American Held by ISIS Is Former Army Ranger Turned Volunteer
Peter Kassig founded relief organization; parents ask for his release in video
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 4, 2014 10:13 AM CDT

(Newser) – In its latest execution video, ISIS threatened that its next victim would be an American aid worker named Peter Kassig. The 26-year-old is a former Army Ranger from Indiana who served in Iraq in 2007 before being honorably discharged for medical reasons, reports CNN. He enrolled at Butler University upon his return to the US, but traveled to Libya on his spring break to learn about the Syria crisis. "I wanted more of a challenge, more of a purpose," he told the network in a 2012 interview. Eventually, Kassig decided to stay full time to do humanitarian work and founded a relief group called the Special Emergency Response and Assistance, reports the Washington Post. In the last few years, he has been delivering food and medical supplies to refugees from the Syrian conflict.

Kassig's parents today released a YouTube video pleading for his release. They refer to their son as "Abdul-Rahman, formerly known as Peter." The Kassigs have previously said that their son converted to Islam while in captivity. A few quotes from Kassig, from CNN and from an interview last year with Time:

  • “This is real, and it’s scary stuff, and it’s sad what is happening to people here. People back home need to know about it, they need to know. Sometimes you gotta take a stand, you gotta draw a line somewhere.”
  • "I am not a doctor. I am not a nurse. But I am a guy who can clean up bandages, help clean up patients, swap out bandages, help run IVs, make people's quality of life a little bit better. This is something for me that has meaning, that has purpose."
  • "In five years, if I can look back on all of this and say that our organization is able to truly help people, that I was able so share a little bit of hope, and that I never stopped learning, then I will know this all stood for something."