Hostage be­head­ing act of evil – Obama

Ji­hadists also de­cap­i­tate 18 Syr­ian sol­diers and is­sue chal­lenge to US

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD - SAPA-AFP

THE KILLING of US aid worker Peter Kas­sig has sparked global hor­ror, with Pres­i­dent Barack Obama con­demn­ing his be­head­ing by the Is­lamic State (IS) ji­hadist group as “an act of pure evil”.

Kas­sig’s fam­ily said they were heartbroken by the killing, claimed by IS in a grue­some video that also showed the si­mul­ta­ne­ous be­head­ings of at least 18 men de­scribed as Syr­ian mil­i­tary per­son­nel.

It was the lat­est in a se­ries of atroc­i­ties by IS, a Sunni Mus­lim ex­trem­ist group that has seized con­trol of large parts of Iraq and Syria.

Kas­sig, who took the name Ab­dul-Rah­man after con­vert­ing to Is­lam, was cap­tured in Oc­to­ber last year. He was the fifth Western hostage be­headed by IS, after two US re­porters and two Bri­tish aid work­ers.

“Ab­dul-Rah­man was taken from us in an act of pure evil by a ter­ror­ist group that the world rightly as­so­ciates with in­hu­man­ity,” Obama said in a state­ment.

In the un­dated video re­leased on Sun­day, a man who ap­pears to be the same Bri­tish-ac­cented ji­hadist who be­headed pre­vi­ous Western hostages stands above a sev­ered head.

“This is Peter Ed­ward Kas­sig, a US cit­i­zen,” the black-clad masked ex­e­cu­tioner says, urg­ing Obama to send more troops back to the re­gion to con­front IS.

“Here we are bury­ing the first Amer­i­can cru­sader in Dabiq, ea­gerly wait­ing for the re­main­der of your armies to ar­rive,” the mil­i­tant says, re­fer­ring to a north­ern Syr­ian town.

Wash­ing­ton is pre­par­ing to dou­ble its mil­i­tary per­son­nel in Iraq to up to 3 100 as part of the in­ter­na­tional cam­paign it is lead­ing against the ji­hadists.

Euro­pean coun­tries in­clud­ing Bri­tain and France have joined the US in car­ry­ing out air strikes against IS in Iraq, and the EU said yes­ter­day it was “fully com­mit­ted” to tack­ling the threat posed by the ji­hadists.

EU for­eign pol­icy chief Fed­er­ica Mogherini and hu­man­i­tar­ian aid com­mis­sioner Chris­tos Stylian­ides said the killing of Kas­sig and the Syr­ian mil­i­tary per­son­nel showed IS’s “re­solve to pur­sue its ter­ror agenda in breach of all uni­ver­sally recog­nised val­ues and rights”.

“All per­pe­tra­tors of hu­man rights abuses must be held ac­count­able. The EU will spare no ef­fort to­wards this ob­jec­tive,” they said in a state­ment.

Kas­sig, an Iraq war veteran, had risked his life to pro­vide med­i­cal treat­ment and re­lief sup­plies to those suf­fer­ing from Syria’s civil war.

He founded a group through which he trained about 150 civil­ians to pro­vide med­i­cal aid to peo­ple in Syria. His group also gave food, cook­ing sup­plies, cloth­ing and medicine to the needy.

Kas­sig’s par­ents said they were “in­cred­i­bly proud” of his hu­man­i­tar­ian work to help Syr­i­ans trapped in a bloody civil war.

“He lost his life as a re­sult of his love for the Syr­ian peo­ple and his de­sire to ease their suf­fer­ing,” Ed and Paula Kas­sig said in a state­ment posted on Twit­ter.

Flags were to be low­ered at gov­ern­ment build­ings in Kas­sig’s home state of In­di­ana yes­ter­day, Gov­er­nor Mike Pence said, call­ing the killing “an un­speak­able act of bar­barism”.

“Ab­dul-Rah­man Kas­sig was one of us and he was the best of us. He was… ad­mired by all as a loving son, a ded­i­cated stu­dent, an Army Ranger, and a com­pas­sion­ate hu­man­i­tar­ian who risked his life to ren­der med­i­cal aid to refugees in Syria and Le­banon,” Pence said.

Dur­ing a trip to refugee camps out­side the Le­banese cap­i­tal Beirut in March 2012, Kas­sig said he found a “short­age of ev­ery­thing ex­cept suf­fer­ing”.

“Here, in this land, I have found my call­ing,” Kas­sig wrote in an e-mail to friends, fam­ily and teach­ers at the time.

“I do not know much, ev­ery day that I am here I have more ques­tions and less an­swers, but what I do know is that I have a chance to do some­thing here, to take a stand. To make a dif­fer­ence.”

US Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry said Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials had worked along­side Kas­sig’s fam­ily to try to se­cure his re­lease. “Dur­ing his time in cap­tiv­ity, his fam­ily and the en­tire gov­ern­ment worked to avoid this tragic out­come,” he added.

MUR­DERED: A pho­to­graph made avail­able by the Spe­cial Emer­gency Re­sponse and As­sis­tance emer­gency re­lief or­gan­i­sa­tion shows US aid worker Peter Kas­sig at an un­known lo­ca­tion in Syria. The Is­lamic State group re­leased a video on Sun­day pur­port­ing to show the killing of Kas­sig.

HEARTBROKEN: A still im­age taken from a video shows Ed and Paula Kas­sig record­ing a video mes­sage for their son Peter in In­di­anapo­lis last month.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.