Islamic State Militants Kill U.S. Hostage Peter Kassig

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Death of Aid Worker Fuels Debate About Fighting Islamic State.

Islamic State released a video on Sunday showing the gruesome aftermath of the killing of American aid worker Peter Kassig, a former Army Ranger who was kidnapped last year as he delivered medical supplies to victims of Syria’s civil war.

The killing rekindled debate in Washington about whether the U.S. should commit ground troops to fight the militants, whose earlier execution of an American hostage contributed to the administration’s decision to launch airstrikes against the group in Iraq in August.

Mr. Kassig, 26 years old, is the fifth Western hostage to be executed by Islamic State, and the third American to be killed. One more American hostage—a female aid worker—remains in captivity. She hasn’t been identified by Islamic State.

The execution comes as Islamic State has sought to capitalize on its territorial gains across Iraq and Syria by seizing foreign aid destined for the neediest Syrians and redistributing it to people under its sway.

President Barack Obama on Sunday confirmed the authenticity of the video, calling the killing “an act of pure evil by a terrorist group that the world rightly associates with inhumanity” but didn’t promise further action.

Mr. Kassig, an Indiana native, was kidnapped in October 2013 as he delivered aid to Syria’s eastern province of Deir Ezzour. During the past year of captivity, Mr. Kassig converted to Islam and adopted the name Abdul Rahman, Arabic for “servant of the merciful.” He prayed and fasted during the holy month of Ramadan, according to fellow Western captives who were freed by Islamic State after their governments paid ransoms to the group, according to reports from friends.

“This video we have seen here, if verified, is a tragic reminder of the savagery of ISIS and the complexity of our challenge,” Sen. Richard Durbin (D., Ill.) said on CNN’s State of the Union before the White House confirmed its authenticity.

But Mr. Durbin said “many of us feel, and I think the American people feel, it would be a serious mistake to make a commitment of land troops into these theaters.”

Mitt Romney , the former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Republican presidential nominee, said Mr. Obama was “wrong” to rule out the use of ground troops.

“I think the president’s wrong in saying that under no circumstances will he consider ground troops,” he said on CBS’ Face the Nation. “No one wants to see our own ground troops there, but if you’re going to defeat something you don’t tell the enemy exactly what you plan on doing or what you won’t do.”

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