U.S. hostage’s family asks Islamic State for mercy

The parents of an American aid worker taken hostage by the Islamic State released a video Saturday pleading with their son’s captors to show mercy and free the young man.

Peter Kassig’s family said he was in the region doing humanitarian work when he disappeared a year ago near the city of Raqqah in eastern Syria.

“We implore those who are holding you to show mercy and use their power to let you go,” said Kassig’s mother, Paula, holding a picture of their 26-year-old son.

The Islamic State revealed for the first time in a separate video Friday that it was holding Kassig, a former U.S. Army Ranger who served in Iraq in 2007.

In the same video, a militant dubbed “Jihadi John,” beheaded a British hostage named Alan Henning, a taxi driver from Manchester. The militant then threatened to kill Kassig, a Muslim convert, because of U.S. bombing of Islamic State targets in Syria.

Henning was the fourth Western hostage the Islamic State has executed, deaths portrayed in a series of gruesome videos that the group began distributing in August.

British Prime Minister David Cameron called Henning’s death “absolutely abhorrent. It is senseless. It is completely unforgivable.”

He called the Islamic State “repulsive and “barbaric.”

In three earlier videos, the same militant appears to have decapitated American journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley as well as British aid worker David Haines. The group is also holding British journalist John Cantlie and an American woman who traveled to Syria for humanitarian purposes.

Kassig’s family, speaking from their home in Indianapolis, said the United States’ decision to attack the Islamic State is beyond their control.

“We asked our government to change its actions, but like our son, we have no more control over the U.S. government than you have over the break of dawn,” Ed Kassig said. “We implore his captors to show mercy and use their power to let our son go.”

A former hostage, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Kassig had been abused by his captors like other Westerners held by the Islamic State.

Kassig is a native of Indiana who founded Special Emergency Response and Assistance, an aid group helping Syrians fleeing the civil war in their country.

Beginning in 2012, Kassig delivered food and medical supplies and provided medical care to wounded civilians inside Syria, the family said.

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