The murderous group of thugs known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has released another chilling video, this time of the killing of American Peter Kassig. The 26-year-old former U.S. Army Ranger from Indiana, who had previously served in Iraq, returned to Syria as an aid worker when his tour of duty ended in 2007.
The 16 minute video also shows the beheading of Syrian soldiers who had been held in captivity.
A poor quality video shot with one camera, analysts suspect that something may have occurred during the killing that thwarted the group's usual attempt to fully choreograph its murders, the New York Times reported.
Dubbed Jihadi John by the British news media, the same killer seen in previous videos continues to hide behind a black mask.
"This is Peter Edward Kassig, a U.S. citizen of your country. Peter, who fought against the Muslims in Iraq while serving as a soldier under the American Army, doesn't have much to say. His previous cellmates have already spoken on his behalf," the executioner says in the video. "You claim to have withdrawn from Iraq four years ago. We said to you then that you are liars."
Kassig's cellmates included two American journalists, James Foley and Steven J. Sotloff, as well as two British aid workers, David Haines and Alan Henning, all beheaded by ISIS starting in August.
Reporting from Istanbul, Turkey on Sunday, NBC Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel said on 'Meet the Press,' "We see the same, now familiar, militant dressed in all black with a distinctive London accent saying that Peter Kassig has been killed. You don't actually see the beheading; you just see the militant, and then what looks to be Peter Kassig's head at his feet."
In a letter to his parents last month, Kassig wrote, "It is still really hard to believe all of this is really happening... as I am sure you know by now, things have been getting pretty intense. We have been held together, us foreigners ... and now about half the people have gone home."
In 2012, Kassig moved to Beirut, Lebanon where he founded a humanitarian organization that provided supplies to Syrians seeking refuge from the war. According to the Associated Press, he relocated to Gaziantep in southern Turkey in the summer of 2013, roughly an hour from the border, and began making regular trips into Syria to offer medical care to the wounded.
On Oct. 1, 2013, Kassig was part of a group of aid workers traveling to deliver supplies when they were stopped at a checkpoint in the northeastern town of Deir al-Zour, Syria, and kidnapped by ISIS. Over the past year, Kassig endured torture and severe mental trauma, and watched as cell mate after cell mate was hauled away for execution.
"I am obviously pretty scared to die but the hardest part is not knowing, wondering, hoping, and wondering if I should even hope at all," he wrote to his parents.
Kassig converted to Islam while in captivity and changed his name to Abdul-Rahman, but these actions wouldn't have saved his life. ISIS is blaming his death on his past as an American solider fighting in Iraq.
Unlike videos released in recent months, the latest clip did not include a specific threat or reference to future deaths. As Engel reported, "They are simply running out of hostages."
On Sunday, President Obama called the murder "...an act of pure evil by a terrorist group that the world rightly associates with inhumanity."
Using the Muslim name that Kassig assumed following his conversion, the president said, "Today we offer our prayers and condolences to the parents and family of Abdul-Rahman Kassig, also known to us as Peter." He denounced ISIS, which he says enjoys the slaughter of innocents, and emphasized that Muslims like Kassig are not guaranteed safety.
Sunday's video marks the fifth confirmed Western hostage killed by ISIS.