A day after a US official said the footage of beheading a US worker Peter Kassig is not officially confirmed as authentic, US President Barack Obama on Sunday confirmed that the american hostage had been killed by the Sunni radical group Islamic State (IS).
Kassig, a US aid worker, "was taken from us in an act of pure evil by a terrorist group that the world rightly associates with inhumanity," Obama said in a statement issued by the White House, Xinhua reported.
He is the third US hostage killed by IS in less than three months. The aid worker was earlier known as Peter Kassig before he converted to Islam. He was kidnapped in Syria last year.
A video uploaded to social networks has been circulating online, purporting to show members of the IS group beheading several Syrian soldiers as well as Kassig. The video said a militant with his face concealed stands before a severed head is that of Kassig’s. The video also shows what appears to be the mass beheading of more than a dozen captured Syrian soldiers.
"Today, we offer our prayers and condolences to the parents and family of Abdul-Rahman Kassig, also known to us as Peter," Obama said, "We cannot begin to imagine their anguish at this painful time."
While praising Kassig as "a humanitarian who worked to save the lives of Syrians injured and dispossessed by the Syrian conflict", Obama described his deeds as "selfless acts of an individual who cared deeply about the plight of the Syrian people".
"Today we grieve together, yet we also recall that the indomitable spirit of goodness and perseverance that burned so brightly in Abdul-Rahman Kassig, and which binds humanity together, ultimately is the light that will prevail over the darkness of ISIL," he said, using an alternate acronym of the group.
The footage, released on Sunday, showed the beheading of Kassig, and at least 12 people who IS said were Syrian pilots and officers in President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, Al Jazeera reported.
In the video, a masked man said before he was shown beheading one of the men, "To Obama the dog of rome, today we are slaughtering the soldiers of Bashar and tomorrow we are slaughtering your soldiers and with god’s permission we will break this final and last crusade." The video also showed a bloodied head on the ground, which was that of Kassig, IS said in the video.
"This is Peter Edward Kassig, a US citizen of your country. Peter, who fought against Muslims in Iraq, was serving as a soldier in the American army, does not have much to say," a masked person standing near the head said. "His previous cellmates have already spoken on his behalf."
Between August and October this year, the Islamic State has beheaded American-Israeli journalist Steven Sotloff, British aid worker Alan Henning, American journalist James Foley and British aid worker David Haines.
A National Security Council spokesperson said the US intelligence community was aware of the video and was "working as quickly as possible to determine its authenticity."
(With inputs from IANS)