Friends, supporters plan to carry on Kassig’s legacy

In this undated photo provided by the Kassig Family, Peter Kassig, is shown with a truck loaded with supplies. The Islamic State group released a graphic video on Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014, in which a black-clad militant claimed to have beheaded U.S. aid worker Peter Kassig, who was providing medical aid to Syrians fleeing the civil war when he was captured inside Syria on Oct. 1, 2013. His friends say he converted to Islam in captivity and took the first name Abdul-Rahman. (AP Photo/Courtesy Kassig Family)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) —  Friends and family in Central Indiana and supporters around the world are mourning Abdul-Rahman Kassig’s death Sunday. They’re also planning on carrying on his legacy.

Nora Basha met Kassig online before he was taken captive, and was inspired by his dedication to her native country of Syria. She woke up to the news of his execution early Sunday morning.

“We were heartbroken and despaired at what we heard,” said Basha, “He risked his life every day to save the lives of people that he didn’t have any relation to and we will forever be grateful for that.”

“He could have stayed here and had a typical American life. But he chose to go back to help with all the suffering in Syria caused by the civil war,” said Franklin religious studies professor David Carlson.

His desire to help others is why Carlson believes people from all around the world rallied around Kassig and called for his release. The global support gave way to a glimmer of hope that ISIS may give in.

“Maybe they were listening to the appeals of the family, maybe they were listening to the tremendous amount of support that came from the Muslim world for his release,” said Carlson.

No one had seen or heard anything about Kassig for more than a month since ISIS first released the video threatening him. That’s far more time than between previous videos and executions.

“The initial deadline that ISIS gave kind of passed. And we hadn’t heard news. So that to us was great news because we were still holding on to that hope,” said Basha.

Now that hope has turned into grief, but Basha insists ISIS didn’t win.

“Peter Kassig was able to do exactly what ISIS was afraid of and that was to bring people together from all walks of life,” said Basha.

That’s the legacy that will live on through Kassig’s parents and all those who witnessed his strength.

“You can just feel the love between these parents and the son and how proud they were of him. Are of him,” said Carlson.

“Moving forward, we just want them to know that we all view peter as nothing less than a hero and that’s how he will always be remembered,” said Basha.

Resources to carry on Kassig’s work:

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