Hundreds honor Indiana aid worker slain in Syria

Ed, right, and Paula Kassig, left center, parents of Peter Kassig, are hugged by Tory Stempf, right center, and his son Morgan Stempf before funeral prayers were held in the mosque at Al-Huda Foundation in Fishers, Ind., Friday, Nov. 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

FISHERS, Ind. (AP) — The death of an Indiana aid worker at the hands of Islamic State militants is “barbaric” and is not a true reflection of Islam, a cleric told hundreds of people who gathered Friday for the first of three memorial services honoring the slain man.

Sheikh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi, a top Syrian cleric who has been a strident critic of the Islamic State, called Peter Kassig, 26, a “great hero” during prayers at the Al Huda Foundation mosque in the Indianapolis suburb of Fishers. He said Kassig “carried in his heart the principles of Islam even before becoming Muslim.”

Kassig was captured Oct. 1, 2013, while delivering aid in Syria through a relief organization he founded. He converted to Islam during captivity and changed his first name to Abdul-Rahman.

His parents, Ed and Paula Kassig of Indianapolis, had issued numerous appeals for his release after his life was threatened in an October Islamic State video that showed the beheading of a fellow aid worker, Britain’s Alan Henning.

The Muslim community rallied around the Kassigs, participating in prayer vigils and rallies urging his captors to follow the Quran’s teachings that prohibit Muslims from killing other Muslims.

Their support continued Friday, five days after the White House confirmed Kassig’s death.

“What happened to Abdul-Rahman is beyond comprehension. It is barbaric. But it is not Islamic. It is against Islam,” al-Yaqoubi told those gathered Friday.

Kassig’s parents did not speak to the media at the service but issued a statement that was released afterward.

“We are thankful that Abdul-Rahman had his faith to sustain him and carry him through his ordeal,” they said.

Services also are planned Saturday at a gathering of the Muslim Alliance of Indiana and Sunday at Butler University in Indianapolis.

 

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s