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IS beheads US aid worker Peter Kassig, in an act of 'pure evil'

A video released by IS on Sunday shows the graphic beheading of US hostage Peter Kassig
Kassig family photo shows Peter near the Syrian border (2012-13) delivering supplies to refugees (AFP)

US aid worker, Peter Kassig, has been beheaded by IS, with the footage of the killing surfacing online on Sunday.

The footage also shows the beheading of some 18 other men, described as Syrian military personnel. The US has now confirmed the authenticity of the video, with US President Barack Obama calling it an "an act of pure evil".

IS said they executed Kassig, a 26-year-old Iraq war veteran who was captured in Syria approximately a year ago and who reportedly converted to Islam while in custody, as a warning to the West. He was captured in Syria, where he had been working to deliver supplies and provide first aid training to refugees.

"To Obama the dog of Rome, today we are slaughtering the soldiers of Bashar and tomorrow we are slaughtering your soldiers and with god's permission we will break this final and last crusade," a masked man said before he was shown beheading one of the soldiers.

Kassig's death would be the fifth beheading of a Westerner apparently carried out by the Islamic State.

Unlike in previous videos of Western hostages, Kassig does not appear alive in the video. Instead an IS executioner, pointing to a bloodied head on the ground, claims his death after beheading Syrian troops.

In the latest IS video, the executioners' faces are all uncovered except for a masked lead executioner who addresses the camera in a British accent. Most of the executioners appear to be foreign fighters.

"This is Peter Edward Kassig, a US citizen of your country. Peter, who fought against Muslims in Iraq, was serving as a soldier in the American army, does not have much to say," the masked man standing near the head said.

"His previous cellmates have already spoken on his behalf."

Kassig, served in the American military and was deployed to Iraq in 2007 with the US Army Rangers, developing a deep interest in the Middle East.

His four-month deployment ended in July 2007 when Kassig was honorably discharged for undisclosed medical reasons.

In October, Kassig's parents issued a video plea for their son's release, urging his captors to show mercy. In the three-minute video posted on Youtube, parents Ed and Paula Kassig said their son, who they refer to by his new name, Abdul-Rahman, had dedicated his life to helping innocent victims of the Syrian conflict. 

"Abdul-Rahman is a compassionate young man, driven by the desire to save lives and alleviate suffering. He found his calling in Syria and along the Syrian border.

Kassig's parents refer to a passage the 26-year-old wrote in 2012: “What keeps me up at night isn’t the things I’ve done when I shouldn’t have, so as much as the things I haven’t done when I could have. I’d be OK if I never slept again lest I forget those moments.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Sunday he was "horrified by the cold blooded murder of Abdul-Rahman Kassig," Cameron wrote on Twitter. "ISIL have again shown their depravity. My thoughts are with his family," he tweeted using a different name for the IS group.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls also condemned the execution of Kassig and the Syrian soldiers as a "barbaric act" saying this will only boost France's determination to take on Islamic State militants.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and humanitarian aid commissioner Christos Stylianides said in a statement that the killings 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 their statement.

"We remain fully committed to tackling the threat posed by ISIL and other terrorist organisations in Syria and Iraq, alongside our regional and international partners."


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