Parents say hostage converted to Islam willingly

Ed and Paula Kassig threatened with beheading

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The parents of an Indiana aid worker threatened with beheading by the Islamic State group say his interest in Eastern religions began long before he traveled to the Middle East.

Ed and Paula Kassig told The Associated Press Monday that they do not believe Abdul-Rahman Kassig’s conversion to Islam was spurred by his captivity.

Their son changed his name from Peter since his conversion. He’s been held by militants since Oct. 1, 2013.

The Kassigs say their son began exploring Eastern religions while in school. They say he initiated his conversion to Islam by observing the fast of Ramadan three months before his capture.

French journalist and former hostage Nicolas Henin says he does not believe Kassig was coerced into embracing Islam.

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