INDIANAPOLIS — Ed and Paula Kassig, the parents of Abdul-Rahman Kassig, formerly Peter, today released this statement:
“We are heartbroken to learn that our son, Abdul-Rahman Peter Kassig, has lost his life as a result of his love for the Syrian people and his desire to ease their suffering. Our heart also goes out to the families of the Syrians who lost their lives, along with our son.
“Fed by a strong desire to use his life to save the lives of others, Abdul-Rahman was drawn to the camps that are filled with displaced families and to understaffed hospitals inside Syria. We know he found his home amongst the Syrian people, and he hurt when they were hurting.
“As he wrote in March 2012, in a letter announcing he was taking a leave of absence from Butler University to serve the Syrian people:
‘Here, in this land, I have found my calling. … I do not know much. Every day that I am here I have more questions and less answers, but what I do know is that I have a chance to do something here, to take a stand. To make a difference.’
“We are incredibly proud of our son for living his life according to his humanitarian calling. We will work every day to keep his legacy alive as best we can.
“We remain heartbroken, also, for the families of the other captives who did not make it home safely. The families of James Foley, Steven Sotloff, David Haines, and Alan Henning remain in our daily thoughts and prayers, and we pray for the safe return of all remaining captives held by all sides of the Syrian civil war.
“We remain eternally grateful for the many, many words of support and prayers from all over the world on our son’s behalf. We ask people to continue to pray for the safe return of all captives being held unjustly and all people being oppressed around the world, and especially for the people of Syria, a land our son loved.”
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions in honor of Abdul-Rahman Kassig be made to the Syrian American Medical Society, which is working to meet the medical needs of Syrians displaced and injured by war:
3660 Stutz Dr. Suite 100
Canfield Ohio 44406
Kassig, 26, an Indianapolis native, was working as a humanitarian aid worker in Syria when he was captured on Oct. 1, 2013. He was traveling in an ambulance en route to Deir Ezzour (eastern Syria) to deliver medical supplies and trauma medical care equipment and provide medical first responder training to civilians.
In the statement, the Kassigs say that since the civil war began in 2011, more than 9 million Syrian people have been forced out of their homes, including an estimated 3 million forced to flee into neighboring countries of Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and others. Half of the refugees are children.