Friends react to ISIS threat against Indiana Army veteran

(Peter Kassig - Family Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Those who trained alongside Peter Kassig as EMTs or sat next to him in class say they knew he would go on to do something great. But now that his life is in danger, they are just holding onto hope for survival.

Kassig appears to be the next target of Islamic extremist group Islamic State. Kassig, 26, was working on a project for the non-governmental organization he founded, SERA (Special Emergency Response and Assistance), when he was detained on October 1, 2013, on his way to Deir Ezzour in eastern Syria.

The last time many of Kassig’s friends saw him, he was being featured on CNN as an Army Ranger veteran dedicating his life to service overseas.

“I’m an idealist and I believe in hopeless causes,” Kassig told CNN in 2012.

“I had been so proud to have known him and been in class with him and I was so excited that he was doing what he said he was going to do,” Ashleigh Taylor said.

Taylor was one of Kassig’s political science classmates at Butler University.

“Just to be sitting next to him literally the seat next to him everyday and then seeing the image of him over there, I almost can’t comprehend it,” Taylor said.

It’s a shockwave of a emotions that stretches far beyond Kassig’s native Indianapolis.

“As soon as I saw Pete, I was like oh my gosh. My heart just breaks,” Joy Turner said.

Turner trained as an EMT alongside Kassig in Georgia.

“He’s just one of those people you meet and you know he’s going to do great things with his life and make a positive change in whoever’s lives he touches,” Turner said.

Now, both of these women are holding on to hope for their friend.

“I know that something good can happen and that’s what I’m hoping for. If anyone can do it, he can,” Taylor said.

It’s a message that sounds eerily similar to one Kassig once spoke himself.

“There’s this impression, this belief, that there is no hope. That’s when it’s more important than ever that we come in against all odds and try to do something,” Kassig said in 2012 while working in Syria.

According to a family statement released Friday, Kassig has been in ISIS captivity since October 1, 2013. They family said they’ve remained quiet to comply with the wishes of ISIS. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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