Obama condemns ISIS beheading as pure evil

2014-11-16 23:02
Peter Kassig (AP)

Peter Kassig (AP)

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Beirut - US President Barack Obama Sunday condemned as "pure evil" the Islamic State group's beheading of American aid worker Peter Kassig after ISIS released a video showing his body.

The jihadist group released a video on Sunday saying it had killed Kassig, who called himself Abdul-Rahman after converting to Islam, in a warning to Washington as it prepares to send more troops to Iraq.

"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 released aboard Air Force One as he returned home from an Asia tour.

The video also showed the gruesome simultaneous beheadings of at least 18 men described as Syrian military personnel, the latest in a series of mass executions and other atrocities carried out by ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

"Like [US journalists] Jim Foley and Steven Sotloff before him, his life and deeds stand in stark contrast to everything that ISIL represents," Obama added, using another acronym by which ISIS is known.

"ISIL's actions represent no faith, least of all the Muslim faith that Abdul-Rahman adopted as his own."

In the undated video, 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 ISIS.

"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.

'Treasured son'

Earlier, Kassig's parents said they were awaiting official confirmation on the death of their "treasured son", a former US soldier who had risked his life to provide medical treatment and aid to those suffering from Syria's civil war.

A statement from Ed and Paula Kassig urged the media not to publish or broadcast images released by ISIS, saying this was "playing into the hostage-takers' hands".

"We prefer our son is written about and remembered for his important work and the love he shared with friends and family," they said.

Kassig was the fifth Western hostage killed by ISIS in recent months, after the two US reporters and two British aid workers were beheaded.

Sunday's video was substantially different from the previous ISIS recordings. Kassig was not shown alive in the footage, and no direct threats were made against other Western hostages.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said he was "horrified" by the "cold-blooded murder" which French President Francois Hollande called a "crime against humanity".

The 26-year-old was captured last year and was threatened in a 3 October video showing the beheading of British aid worker Alan Henning.

The video was released as Washington prepares to double its military personnel in Iraq to up to 3 100 as part of the international campaign it heads against ISIS.

Sequence of beheadings


The Sunni Muslim extremist group has seized large parts of Iraq and Syria, declared a "caliphate" and imposed its brutal interpretation of Islamic law.

The latest video also showed a highly choreographed sequence of the beheadings of at least 18 prisoners said to be Syrian officers and pilots loyal to President Bashar Assad.

Jihadists are shown marching the prisoners past a box of long military knives, each taking one as he passed, then forcing them to kneel in a line and decapitating them.

"Today, we're slaughtering the soldiers of Bashar," the same black-clad militant said in the video.

"Tomorrow, we'll be slaughtering your [US] soldiers. And with Allah's permission, we will break this final and last crusade, and the Islamic State will... begin to slaughter your people on your streets."

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

Burhan Mousa Agha, a Syrian friend who worked with Kassig in Lebanon, described him as a funny, dedicated and brave man who only wanted to help.

"I want to apologise to his family. I'm sorry that their son died in my country, trying to help," Agha told AFP.

"They are animals, less than animals, they don't represent Islam. Peter wasn't fighting anyone, he was teaching people how to save lives.

"I want to send a message to everyone that Peter was a hero, a real hero," Agha added.

The video came as ISIS suffered battleground losses in Iraq backed by US-led air strikes, with government forces on Saturday breaking the jihadists' months-long siege of Iraq's largest oil refinery.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said IS also executed 13 men in Raqa in Syria Sunday, accusing them of belonging to pro-regime sleeper cells.

Read more on:    isis  |  barack obama  |  syria

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