Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

As US Attacks Islamic State near Baghdad, the Fight Hits One US Family at Home

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

As US Attacks Islamic State near Baghdad, the Fight Hits One US Family at Home

Article excerpt

American forces in Iraq to help the Iraqi military push back advancing Islamic State fighters used Apache helicopters for the first time over the weekend to attack positions of the Islamist terrorist group near Baghdad.

At the same time, the parents of an American aid worker held captive in Syria and threatened with beheading by the Islamic State (IS) pleaded for mercy for their son, Peter Kassig, a former US Army Ranger turned EMT who had gone to Lebanon in 2012 to help Syrian war victims.

The two disparate events demonstrated how quickly IS, also known as ISIS or ISIL, has gone from a murky preoccupation for diplomats worried about the group's growth in war-ravaged Syria to a US military target and an unsettling household fixture in the US.

Ed and Paula Kassig of Indianapolis released a video message Saturday in which they implore IS to release their son, who was presented at the end of a video the group released Friday that shows the beheading of British hostage Allan Henning.

As the group has done in previous execution videos - starting with the beheading of American journalist James Foley in September, the first of four Westerners the group has beheaded on camera - the IS fighter in the video presented another kneeling, bound captive and said continued US action against IS would prompt his execution. The kneeling individual is Mr. Kassig.

On Sunday, Kassig's parents released excerpts of a letter they'd received from their son in June, in which he confides that he is "pretty scared to die" but also says that he is "at peace with my belief" - a reference to his conversion to Islam at some point about a year ago. Kassig was abducted in October 2013 while in eastern Syria offering medical assistance.

Kassig's parents asked that people use what they said is now their son's preferred first name - Abdul-Rahman - which they said reflects a faith their son chose voluntarily. …

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