A video purporting to show the beheading of US aid worker Peter Kassig has been posted on the internet by Islamic State.
The video shows a militant dressed in black standing before a severed head, which he claims belongs to Kassig. He says: “This is Peter Edward Kassig, a US citizen, of your country; Peter who fought against the Muslims in Iraq, while serving as a soldier.”
The militant speaks in a British accent, leading to speculation that this could be the same “Jihadi John” who has beheaded hostages in previous videos.
He adds: “We say to you Obama, you claim to have withdrawn from Iraq four years ago. We said to you then that you were liars, that you had not withdrawn and that if you had withdrawn, that you would return.”
Unlike previous beheading videos, this one shows a town and fields in the background, and the location is identified as Dabiq, a town in Syria near the Turkish border. It also shows what it claims to be the mass beheading of Syrian soldiers.
Former soldier Mr Kassig, who is 26-years-old and from Indiana, was kidnapped in October 2013. He was in the region as a charity worker, after having served in Iraq in 2007. His family say that he converted to Islam while in captivity, taking the first name Abdul-Rahman.
Mr Kassig was threatened at the end of the ISIS video showing the beheading of Briton Alan Henning in October.
A spokeswoman for America’s National Security Council said that the White House will be “appalled by the brutal murder of an innocent American” if the video is verified. She also expressed her condolences for Mr Kassig’s family.
Taking to Twitter, British Prime Minister David Cameron said: “These beheadings show once again what a depraved organisation this is.
“Like others who have been murdered in cold blood by ISIL, Abdul-Rahman Kassig was a selfless humanitarian worker who had gone to the region to help care for those fleeing the Syrian conflict.
“This underlines the deplorable depths to which these terrorists are prepared to go – savagely murdering a compassionate man.
“My heart goes out tonight to Abdul-Rahman’s family.”
If the video is verified, it will be the fifth beheading of a Western hostage by the terror group, following the deaths of Steven Sotloff, James Foley, David Haines and Alan Henning.