The White House on Sunday confirmed the death of U.S. aid worker Peter Kassig, a former soldier who tried to help wounded Syrians caught in a brutal civil war but ended up dying himself at the hands of Islamic State militants.
President Barack Obama, in a statement issued as he flew back to Washington after a trip to the Asia Pacific region, said the group “revels in the slaughter of innocents, including Muslims, and is bent only on sowing death and destruction.”
With Kassig’s death, ISIS has killed five Westerners it was holding. Britons David Haines, a former Air Force engineer, and Alan Henning, a taxi driver from northwest England, were beheaded, as was U.S. reporter James Foley and American-Israeli journalist Steven Sotloff.
The U.S. confirmation about Kassig came after a review of an ISIS video released Sunday that purported to show extremists beheading a dozen Syrian soldiers and concluded with a militant claiming to have killed the American.
After his capture in eastern Syria on Oct. 1, 2013, while delivering relief supplies for the aid group he founded, Kassig had converted to Islam and took the name Abdul-Rahman Kassig.
Obama said Kassig “was a humanitarian who worked to save the lives of Syrians injured and dispossessed” by war.
The president said the 26-year-old Indianapolis man “was taken from us in an act of pure evil by a terrorist group that the world rightly associates with inhumanity.”