The Issue: ISIL
Over the weekend, the Islamic State released a video showing the beheading of Peter Kassig, an American aid worker. He was the fifth Western hostage the group has killed and the third American, according to the Washington Post. The New York Times reported he was beheaded in retaliation for airstrikes carried out by the United States in Iraq and Syria. President Barack Obama and the United States government confirmed the identity of Kassig and the authenticity of the video. “Mr. Kassig was taken from us in an act of pure evil by a terrorist group,” Obama said in a statement.
Kassig was captured in eastern Syria in October 2013 while traveling in an ambulance, the Washington Post reported. During his captivity, Kassig converted to Islam while sharing a cell with a devout Syrian Muslim and changed his name to Abdul-Rahman. Kassig founded an aid group to help Syrians that were in the middle of the country’s civil war, according to the Associated Press.
The AP also reported Kassig served in the U.S. Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment and was deployed to Iraq in 2007. He was captured doing relief work with Special Emergency Response and Assistance, a group he founded after his discharge from the Army.
Now, the BBC reported, “Western intelligence officials are trying to identify Islamic State militants seen in the video…using facial recognition software to identify those involved in the mass beheading, matching their real names and origins to their adopted battle names.” It’s reported one of the militants is French and another is British.
The Islamic State is currently holding two women, one a 26-year-old American, according to the Washington Post.
The Issue: Japan’s Economy
While the rest of the world is recovering from the devastating 2008 recession, it seems as though Japan has unexpectedly fallen back into one in the third financial quarter, the New York Times reported.
Japanese cabinet officials said the economy shrunk by 1.6 percent in the three months to the end of September, compared with a year earlier, the Washington Post reported, the second straight quarterly drop. “Economists had been expecting the statistics to show that the economy had grown by 2 percent in the quarter.”
There is a possibility of an economic stimulus package, according to Reuters, but Japan’s Economy Minister said it would “be heard to craft an exceptionally big package because of the need for financial discipline.”
Reuters also reported some economists are thinking growth could improve in the October-December quarter.