Parents of American held hostage by ISIS: 'We haven't abandoned him'

By Elizabeth Murray

Peter Kassig was kidnapped by ISIS fighters one year ago this month, when the former U.S. Army Ranger went to Syria to provide aid to refugees from the country's deadly civil war. 

Since his capture, Kassig has converted to Islam and changed his name from Peter to Abdul-Rahman, and his captors have threatened to behead the 26-year-old from Indianapolis if his parents spoke publicly. But when his picture surfaced on TV days ago, Kassig's parents, Ed and Paula, decided to speak out in hopes their son will hear their words.

"We haven't forgotten him," Paula told NBC's Peter Alexander in an interview that aired on TODAY Monday. "We haven't abandoned him, and we certainly do love him."

  • On the moment they found out their son had been captured: "You just told me you've got a daughter," Ed Kassig said to Alexander. "Just tell the people watching right now, look at their kid and ask that question and they'll have all the answer they need."
  • On their son's conversion to Islam: "He was as taken with the religion as he was with the people," Ed said. "It was a natural process for him."
  • On their son's perspective about being held hostage: "He knows that this is bigger than it just being about him," Paula said. "And we do too."
  • On the last time they heard their son, in an audio recording from his captors: "He described that his time was running out," Paul said. "His vitality, his spark was not in his voice."

The Kassigs also shared portions of a handwritten letter from their son carried out by a former hostage. Ed read from the letter: "Don't worry, Dad. If I go down, I won't go down thinking anything but what I know to be true, that you and Mom love me more than the moon."

The Kassigs said they have had little communication with their son's captors, most of the which has been in the form of a demand. "There's no room for dialogue," Ed Kassig told Alexander.