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US Parents of Islamic State Hostage Break Silence

  • VOA News

Ed and Paula Kassig, in foreground, pray at a vigil for son Abdul-Rahman Kassig at Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Oct. 8, 2014.

Ed and Paula Kassig, in foreground, pray at a vigil for son Abdul-Rahman Kassig at Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Oct. 8, 2014.

The parents of an American hostage threatened with beheading by Islamic State militants say they are unable to meet the demands of their son's captors.

Paula and Ed Kassig said during a pair of interviews broadcast Monday that they're trying desperately to free Abdul-Rahman Kassig, who was captured in Syria last October.

"We’re doing everything we can to secure his release," Ed Kassig told CBS This Morning.

But the militants’ demands are beyond their reach, the couple said. They did not elaborate on the nature of those demands.

The 26-year-old former U.S. Army Ranger from Indianapolis, Indiana, was taken captive while doing humanitarian work in war-torn Syria. His family said he converted to Islam while in captivity and changed his first name from Peter.

Paula Kassig told NBC's Today show that the couple recently received an audio recording of their son, in which he said he feared his time was running out.

Speaking out now

The couple said they had remained silent for nearly a year at the Islamic State militants' demand but had decided to speak out because abiding by the kidnappers’ instructions had failed to help the families of other Western hostages who were murdered.

"Kassig's journey - from a kid who excelled at high school cross country to a man who converted to Islam and gave everything he had to helping Syrian refugees - was in many ways a reflection of those who raised him," the Indianapolis Star reported. His mother was "the public health nurse who works with refugees; his father, the beloved schoolteacher; and his late grandfather, a Methodist minister who used the pulpit to call attention to the suffering of Muslims half a world away."

Kassig, the couple's only child, had attended Butler University in Indianapolis before beginning his work with refugees, the Star reported.

He was threatened by name in the latest beheading video released by the Islamic State militants in which British taxi driver Alan Henning was murdered.

The video was the fourth released by the group. Previous victims were U.S. reporter James Foley, American Israeli journalist Steven Sotloff and British aid worker David Haines.

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