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Hundreds honour murdered aid worker

An American aid worker beheaded by Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria has been praised for his humanitarian work during a memorial service attended by hundreds that included readings from the Bible and the Koran.

Peter Kassig, who took the first name Abdul-Rahman after converting to Islam during captivity, was remembered as a good man, son, student and volunteer who dedicated himself to helping others and lived a short but full life.

"We're not here because of how he passed," said Hazem Bata, executive director of the Islamic Society of North America. "We're because of how he lived. We're here because of the type of man he chose to be. We're here because of his selflessness."

Mr Kassig, 26, from Indianapolis, Indiana, was captured last year in eastern Syria while delivering relief supplies to refugees of Syria's civil war. The former US Army ranger who served in Iraq in 2007 had returned to the Middle East in 2012 and founded a relief organisation to help war victims.

His parents, Ed and Paula Kassig, of Indianapolis, learned of their son's capture last year, but did not disclose his captivity while family and friends quietly worked to secure his release.

In October, their son appeared in another video released by the IS group that showed the beheading of a fellow aid worker, Briton Alan Henning. The militants vowed that Mr Kassig would be next, leading his parents to plead publicly for mercy while stressing his humanitarian work and conversion to Islam.

The Muslim community rallied around them, with prayer vigils and rallies urging his captors to follow the Koran's teachings that forbid the killing of Muslims by other Muslims.

Speakers at the 80-minute service at at Butler University, Indianapolis, which Mr Kassig briefly attended before moving to the Middle East, praised him for his humanitarian work and urged others to use his life as inspiration.

"Our hearts broke with the news of not only his death, but the brutal and barbaric way in which it occurred," said the Rev Bill Hoopes, pastor of Epworth United Methodist Church in Indianapolis, which the Kassig family attends.

"Many of us had hoped deeply that Peter would be the exception. That he would be the one his captors would be set free."

Among those attending the service were Indiana's governor, senators and members of the US Congress.


From Belfast Telegraph