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Community Rallies Around ISIS Captive's Family

The mother of the Indianapolis man who is being held captive by the group that calls itself the Islamic State is asking people to pray for her son every day at sunset.

Paula Kassig made the request during a prayer service at the Islamic Society of North America in Plainfield. She also read tributes from friends of her son, Abdul-Rahman Kassig.

Kassig was captured by ISIS last October when he was on his way to Eastern Syria as part of a humanitarian effort.

Community Comes Together To Support Kassig Family

Friday is the second time the community has come together in support of Abdul-Rhaman.

A sea of white took over Butler University's campus Wednesday night.

The Muslim Student Association and hundreds of supporters gathered at a vigil to honor Abdul-Rahman, who attended Butler.

"I was very surprised to hear that there was a captive from Indianapolis," said Hazem Bata, executive director of the Islamic Society of North America. "It caught me off guard. I wasn't expecting it."

From a young age, Abdul-Rahman's parents say their son felt compelled to help others.

"Our son was inspired by his grandfather to do humanitarian work," Ed Kassig said in a video released by the family. "When he saw the suffering of the Syrian people, he went to Turkey and founded an organization to provide aid and assistance."

That aid organization is called Special Emergency Response and Assistance, or SERA.

Starting in 2012, Abdul-Rahman made it his mission to help the Syrian people by delivering food and medical supplies to those fleeing the country's civil war.

But, that mission was put on hold last October, when ISIS captured Abdul-Rahman.

"We know that the Syrians are suffering," Ed Kassig said. "We also believe violence is not the solution to the problems that have troubled us all. There is so much that is beyond our control. We've asked our government to change its actions. But, like our son, we have no more control over the U.S. government than you have over the breaking of dawn."

Abdul-Rahman was shown at the end of a video released by ISIS last week.

We implore those who are holding you to show mercy and use their power to let you go.

-Paula Kassig

After beheading British aid worker Alan Henning, the terrorist organization threatened Abdul-Rahman would be next.

They've already killed four people.

"We implore those who are holding you to show mercy and use their power to let you go," Paula Kassig said in the video statement.

An Iraqi Refugee's Perspective On ISIS

Ali Haddad knows just how brutal the terrorist organization can be.

He lives and works in Indianapolis, but is from Baghdad. He learned of ISIS for the first time two years ago, the same year he moved to the United States.

"They didn't have as much of power as they have right now," Haddad said. "In the beginning, they were a small group of people, like a branch of al-Qaeda."

Haddad says he's heard stories from family still living in Iraq about the unthinkable terror ISIS is inflicting on innocent people.

ISIS, they're like a group or dead people or a group of zombies. They have nothing to lose.

-Ali Haddad, Iraqi refugee

"They used to target elementary schools, preschools with suicide bombers and car bombs," Haddad said.

So, he was horrified, but not surprised when he heard ISIS was beheading journalists and aid workers.

He's worried about what that will mean for Abdul-Rahman.

"Just pray for him, that's it," he says.

Praying For A Safe Return

Many across the Hoosier state are praying often, as they wait to hear any news of Abdul-Rahman's well-being.

"We call upon his captors, follow the religion that you claim to hold so dear, and have mercy on Abdul-Rahman," Bata said during the Butler vigil. "And, be warned because God also says he who kills a soul unjustly will be as if he killed all human kind."

As the days pass, Abdul-Rahman's parents are asking others to take his mission to heart.

They hope his story is raising awareness about the crisis and Syria – and encouraging others to help.

"I think it inspires everybody," said Maya Alshawa, president of the Butler Muslim Student Organization. "Because, the ability of someone to sacrifice so much and put themselves at risk to do something for these people is great. I think it's something that we can all learn from. It put things into perspective. How much can I do for my community? What can I do for my community?"

The Kassig family is trying to reach out to their son's captors.

In addition to the video they released last weekend asking for mercy from ISIS, Paula Kassig posted a letter on Twitter Wednesday, saying:

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. My husband and I are on our own, with no help from the government. We would like to talk to you. How can we reach you?

Sources close to the family confirm Paula Kassig wrote the letter.

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