washingtonpost.com – On the first day of October in 2013, Peter Kassig was leading a convoy carrying supplies to a hospital near Deir al-Zour, Syria. A year earlier, he had founded a humanitarian aid organization called Special Emergency Response and Assistance (SERA), and he had just used donations flowing in from the United States to purchase supplies. He knew eastern Syria was no place for Westerners — or Syrians. Still, he insisted on leading the mission to help refugees of Syria’s civil war.

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