DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, Nov. 17, 2014 – A former Army Ranger who worked to aid victims of the conflict in Syria personified altruism and compassion, in stark contrast to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists who murdered him, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said last night.
In a statement he issued on behalf of all men and women of the Defense Department, Hagel extended condolences to the family of Abdul-Rahman Kassig, also known as Peter Kassig, whose beheading was shown in a video ISIL released via social media.
“[Kassig] time and again volunteered his service during times of war -- first as an Army Ranger in Iraq, and later as a devoted humanitarian, providing aid to victims of the conflict in Syria,” Hagel said. “Like his fellow veterans of the 9/11 generation, his strong desire to continue making a difference in the world after serving in uniform -- to continue leading a life of purpose -- is an inspiration to us all.”
One More Reminder of ISIL’s ‘Ruthless Barbarity’
The murder is one more reminder of ISIL’s “ruthless barbarity,” the secretary said. “There is no starker contrast between the inhumanity of ISIL and the bright and generous spirit of the young man they murdered,” he added. “As we join his loved ones in mourning his loss, we also celebrate his service, and we celebrate his commitment -- a lifetime commitment to, as he said, ‘stand beside those who might need a helping hand.’”
Hagel called Kassig a young American who personified the values of altruism and compassion that are “the very essence of his adopted religion of Islam.”
“This was a young man who traveled to one of the world's most dangerous places to care for the innocent victims of a bloody conflict, and fearlessly dedicated himself to helping those in need,” the secretary said. “There can be no greater contrast than that between Abdul-Rahman’s generosity of spirit and the pernicious evil of ISIL.”
Hagel noted that during his 13 months in captivity, Kassig’s family, the entire U.S. government and U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly from his home state of Indiana “worked to avoid this tragic outcome.”
‘Wicked Inhumanity of ISIL Terrorists’
“His mother's searing plea directed to his captors is unforgettable,” the secretary added. “The fact that her appeal went unheeded is only further testament to the wicked inhumanity of the ISIL terrorists who have taken her son from her. Just as we witnessed with Jim Foley and Steven Sotloff, the sincere efforts of so many to bring home innocent hostages have been met with blood and barbarity.”
Hagel said the nation can draw inspiration from the “remarkable” devotion the slain aid worker’s parents, Ed and Paula Kassig, had for their son.
“They never stopped trying to bring him home. They never gave up,” he said. “The Kassigs raised a young man who was courageous and selfless to the core, and after seeing the way his family fought on his behalf, it is clear those virtues define the entire family that loved him so much.”