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American hostage of Islamic State says he is 'pretty scared to die' in letter

American hostage of Islamic State says he is 'pretty scared to die' in letter
This undated photo provided by the Kassig family shows Peter Kassig standing in front of a truck filled with supplies for Syrian refugees. A video purportedly produced by militants in Syria released Friday shows Kassig, of Indianapolis, kneeling on the ground as a masked militant says he will be killed next. (Associated Press/Kassig family)

In a letter penned to his parents in June, American hostage of Islamic State Peter Kassig expressed a fear of dying at the hands of his captors.

"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," Kassig, 26, wrote to his parents. "I am very sad that all this has happened and for what all of you back home are going through."

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Kassig, whose parents say he converted to Islam shortly after he was taken captive and now goes by the name Abdul-Rahman, is an Indiana native and former U.S. Army Ranger. The capture of Kassig in October 2013 was not widely reported until Friday when he appeared in a 71-second video from the group in which a militant beheaded a British hostage.

"Obama, you have started your aerial bombardment of Shams [Syria], which keeps on striking our people, so it is only right that we strike the necks of your people," says a dagger-wielding man in the video, according to a translation by the Associated Press in Cairo.

The U.S. and allied countries have intensified aerial assaults on the Islamic State in recent weeks in an effort to decimate its grip on portions of Syria and Iraq.

Islamic State militants have beheaded two Americans -- James Foley and Steven Sotloff -- in recent months.

Kassig's parents, Ed and Paula Kassig, said their son was helping provide aid to Syrian refugees at the time of his capture. They decided to make public excerpts of his letter so the "world can understand why we and so many care for him and admire him."

In the letter, he adds that "If I do die, I figure that at least you and I can seek refuge and comfort in knowing that I went as a result of trying to alleviate suffering and helping those in need."

"We ask the world to continue to pray for him and for all innocent people harmed by violence and war," his parents said in their statement.

Here are all the excerpts released from Peter Kassig's letter:

"The first thing I want to say is thank you. Both to you and mom for everything you have both done for me as parents; for everything you have taught me, shown me and experienced with me. I cannot imagine the strength and commitment it has taken to raise a son like me but your love and patience are things I am so deeply grateful for.

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 alleviate suffering and those in need.

In terms of my faith, I pray everyday and I am not angry about my situation in that sense. I am in a dogmatically complicated situation here, but I am at peace with my belief.

I wish this paper would go on forever and never run out and I could keep talking to you. Just know I'm with you. Every stream, every lake, every field and river. In the woods and in the hills, in all the places you showed me. I love you."

Follow @kurtisalee and email kurtis.lee@latimes.com

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