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Monday, November 17, 2014, Agrahayan 3, 1421, Muharram 23, 1436 Hijr


US aid worker, 18 Syrians beheaded by Islamic State
Observer Online Desk
Publish Date : 2014-11-17,  Publish Time : 19:12,  View Count : 16
BEIRUT: Islamic State claims it has executed Peter Kassig, an American aid worker kidnapped in Syria, as a warning to the US.

The same video carrying the claim last night showed the 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 the jihadist group.

"This is Peter Edward Kassig, a US citizen of your country," said a black-clad militant wearing a balaclava, the same outfit worn by the man who beheaded two American journalists and two British aid workers in earlier videos.

The man stood over a severed head bearing a resemblance to Kassig, a former American soldier who had been providing medical treatment and aid to those suffering from Syria's civil war.

Kassig, a 26-year-old from Indiana who was kidnapped last year in Syria's Deir Ezzor province, also worked in hospitals and clinics treating Syrians who fled to neighbouring Turkey and Lebanon. The militant in the video made no mention of Kassig's aid work, only referring to his time as a US soldier in Iraq.

"Here, we are burying the first American crusader in Dabiq, eager­ly waiting for the remainder of your armies to arrive," he said.

Dabiq is the site of a major 16th-century battle, in what is now northern Syria, that saw the Ottomans defeat the Mamluks and begin a major expansionist phase of an empire Islamic State considers to have been the last caliphate.

In a highly choreographed ­sequence early in the video, jihadists march at least 18 prisoners said to be Syrian officers and pilots past a wooden box of long black military knives, each jihadist taking one as they pass, then force the Syrians to kneel in a line and ­decapitate them.

"Today, we're slaughtering the soldiers of ­Bashar," the black-clad militant says, referring to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The video emerged just minutes after US President Barack Obama left Australia for the US after attending the G20 summit in Brisbane. National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said that, if it was authentic, the White House would be ­"appalled by the brutal murder of an innocent American".

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Islamic State had declared war on the world. "It's nothing but a death cult, and one of the many reasons we are fiercely taking ­action against this death cult at home and abroad is because it is a threat, not just to the people of the region, but everywhere."

British Prime Minister David Cameron said he was "horrified" by the execution of Kassig, known as Abdul-Rahman after converting to Islam. "I'm horrified by the cold-blooded murder," Cameron wrote on Twitter. "ISIL have again shown their depravity."

In an October 3 video showing British aid worker Alan Henning's beheading, the threat was made that Kassig would be next.

Islamic State has justified killing Western hostages as retaliation for US-led airstrikes on the group in Iraq and Syria.

In a letter received by his family in June, Mr Kassig wrote that he was “scared to die”. “But the hardest part is not knowing, wondering, hoping and wondering if I should even hope at all.’’ He continued: "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."

AFP, AP/ZA










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