This photo of Peter Kassig was taken in December 2012 in Idlib Province, Syria, with some of the supplies the nonprofit group Special Emergency Response and Aid purchased for delivery to the refugee camp. Kassig founded the group. Madison native Patrick Thevenow was involved in the project. Kassig took some classes at Hanover College. He met Thevenow at Butler University. (Photo courtesy by Patrick Thevenow/Dec. 2012)
This photo of Peter Kassig was taken in December 2012 in Idlib Province, Syria, with some of the supplies the nonprofit group Special Emergency Response and Aid purchased for delivery to the refugee camp. Kassig founded the group. Madison native Patrick Thevenow was involved in the project. Kassig took some classes at Hanover College. He met Thevenow at Butler University. (Photo courtesy by Patrick Thevenow/Dec. 2012)
A former Hanover College student living and working in the Middle East as a humanitarian aid worker has been identified as the potential next beheading victim by the Islamic State militant group.

Peter Kassig, 26, was coordinating relief efforts between the United States and the Middle East through his nonprofit, Special Emergency Response and Aid.

Kassig, attended Hanover College from 2007-2009.

He was working on a project for SERA when he was detained on Oct. 1, 2013, on his way to Deir Ezzour in eastern Syria, a release from the Kassig family said.

Kassig - who has converted to Islam while being held hostage and is known as Abdul-Rahman - founded the aid nonprofit group in 2012 after serving time in Iraq with an Army special operations unit.

Kassig trained at Fort Benning, Ga., in 2006, and deployed to Iraq from April to July 2007. He was medically discharged at the rank of private first class in September 2007.

According to a 2012 story in The Madison Courier, Madison resident Patrick Thevenow met Kassig at Butler University, where Kassig encouraged Thevenow to get involved with the aid effort.

Kassig founded SERA in the fall of 2012 after returning to the Middle East to work as a medic and began organizing supplies, including food, gas-cooking stove and other items. Thevenow handled the operations in the United States for Kassig's nonprofit group.

Kassig also provided primary trauma care inside Syria, a release from the family said.

After Kassig's capture last year, SERA put its work on hiatus so full attention and support could be given to the Kassig family's efforts to secure his release.

A man Islamic State fighters identify as Kassig was shown at the end of a video released Friday. The video is believed to show the beheading of British hostage Alan Henning, the fourth such killing carried out by the extremist group.

"The Kassig family extends our concern for the family of Alan Henning," Ed and Paula Kassig of Indianapolis said in a release. "We ask everyone around the world to pray for the Henning family, for our son, and for the release of all innocent people being held hostage in the Middle East and around the globe."

Henning, 47, had joined an aid convoy and was taken captive on Dec. 26, shortly after crossing the border between Turkey and Syria. Earlier this week, Henning's wife Barbara Henning asked the militants in a televised plea: "Please release him. We need him back home."

Indiana officials issued statements following the release of the Islamic State video.

"This is an unimaginably devastating situation for any parent to endure. My prayers are with Peter's parents at this terrible time," U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly said in a release. "My family, like everyone in Indiana and across our country, is praying for and thinking of Peter and his family. I ask for respect of the Kassig family's privacy as they seek to navigate this heartbreaking situation. I ask all Hoosiers to continue to keep Peter in their thoughts and prayers in the days ahead."

"Our prayers are with Peter Kassig and his family during this unspeakably difficult time," Gov. Mike Pence said in a statement. "I urge all Hoosiers to keep this compassionate young man and those who know an love him in their thoughts and prayers."

Thevenow referred all media inquiries to the Kassig family but posted messages to his Twitter account Friday night.

"Please keep Pete Kassig, his family, the Henning family, and anyone else held hostage in your thoughts and prayers," one message said.

"Peter Kassig is one of the strongest, most passionate people I know. He went to the Middle East to help people. Please pray for him."



The Associated Press contributed to this report.