The Islamic State (ISIS) has reportedly released a video that shows the beheading deaths of several of its hostages, including U.S. aid worker Peter Kassig and a number of captured Syrian soldiers.
Kassig, a 26-year-old from Indiana, had been held hostage by ISIS for over a year and went by the name Abdul-Rahman after converting to Islam in captivity. He was taken on October 1, 2013 while working with a medical charity in Syria.
The newest video, at 15 minutes and 53 seconds, is the longest yet released by ISIS. It also appears to show the violent deaths of several Syrian soldiers that the militant group says were pilots for that country's government.
The speaker in the video also names the location of where the footage is filmed: the town of Dabiq in Aleppo province, Syria.
Kassig's parents released a statement on Sunday saying, "The family respectfully asks that the news media avoid playing into the hostage-takers’ hands and refrain from publishing or broadcasting photographs or video distributed by the hostage-takers. We prefer our son is written about and remembered for his important work and the love he shared with friends and family, not in the manner the hostage-takers would use to manipulate Americans and further their cause."
The Guardian reports:
Speaking to the camera, [the militant] says: “This is Peter Edward Kassig, a US citizen of your country. Peter, who fought against the Muslims in Iraq whilst serving as a soldier in the American army, doesn’t have much to say. His previous cellmates have already spoken on his behalf.
“But we say to you, Obama … you claim to have withdrawn from Iraq four years ago. We said to you then that you were liars, that you had not withdrawn. And that if you had withdrawn you would return even after some time – you would return.”
The White House said it was investigating the authenticity of the video. National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said, "If confirmed, we are appalled by the brutal murder of an innocent American aid worker and we express our deepest condolences to his family and friends."
The U.S. military has continued to ramp up its presence in Iraq and Syria, conducting air strikes and deploying advisers on the ground to train Iraqi and Kurdish troops. And while President Barack Obama has repeatedly promised that the fight against ISIS would not include American troops engaging in active combat, military officials have recently said that option is still on the table.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey told the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday that the military is "certainly considering" deploying American forces to fight alongside Iraqi and Kurdish troops.
Dempsey made an unannounced trip to Iraq on Saturday to "get a sense from our side about how our contribution is going."