The mother of U.S. aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig has sent a message to ISIS Twitter users, in hopes of reaching out to the militant group’s leader and to plea for her son’s life to be spared.
Paula Kassig released a statement directed at ISIS leader Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi, explaining the family has “no help from the government,” and would like to reach out to him directly.
“I am trying to get in touch with the Islamic State about my son’s fate. I am an old woman, and Abdul Rahman is my only child,” read her post, which was also shared on Twitter in Arabic and directed at Twitter accounts believed to belong to ISIS members. “We would like to talk to you. How can we reach you?”
The message was directed at various Twitter accounts that are believed to belong to ISIS fighters.
The veracity of the @PaulaKassig twitter account was confirmed by a family spokesperson with whom Global News has been corresponding.
Abdul-Rahman Kassig, known as Peter Kassig before converting to Islam while in captivity, is a former U.S. Army ranger who turned to a life of aid work in the Middle East. He formed a humanitarian agency called Special Emergency Response and Assistance, that was based in Gaziantep, Turkey.
He was taken hostage in early October 2013, while taking aid supplies into Syria.
He appeared in a video ISIS released last week, which depicted the beheading of British aid worker Alan Henning. The masked militant in the video threatened Kassig’s life in retaliation for U.S.-led airstrikes against ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq.
Paula Kassig’s message to ISIS came on the heels of a Wednesday evening prayer service at Butler University — the Indianapolis university her son attended prior to going to the Middle East.
Attendees at the vigil, organized by the Butler University Muslim Student Association, prayed not just for the 26-year-old aid worker’s safe release, but also for the fate of millions of Syrians displaced by the civil war.
Paula Kassig, along with Ed Kassig, released a separate statement thanking the community for taking part in the service and called for a day of action on Thursday to encourage people to learn and do more about the Syrian refugee crisis.
“As evidenced by our son’s story, our family doesn’t just talk, we ‘do,'” the Kassig family said in its statement.
“The humanitarian crisis is staggering and is the reason why Abdul-Rahman was drawn to the region,” the family said in the statement. “Please find a charity that is coming to the aid of the children who have been torn from their homes and their schools, and decide how you will help them.”
They also requested people share how they are trying to help by posting on Twitter with the hashtag #BeLikeAbdulRahman
There was initially a media blackout on details of the kidnapping, in hopes of protecting his safety and to not put any negotiations for his release in jeopardy, Kassig’s friend, journalist Michael Downey, told Global News Wednesday afternoon.
But since Kassig appeared in a video posted online Oct. 4 (and removed shortly after), Downey said those holding out hope for his release want to make certain all of his humanitarian work and care for Syrian civilians is known and to make clear he was trying to help people suffering under the Syrian regime that ISIS has been fighting against.
Downey met Kassig in Beirut in September 2012 and the two became fast friends. Before he was taken captive, Downey had planned to film Kassig’s work.
“He gave everything for the Syrian people. … If there wasn’t enough medical supplies, he would take money out of his pocket,” he said. “He’s one of the most kind and selfless people I’ve ever known.”