Kayla Mueller Biography
Kayla Mueller (August 14, 1988 – c. February 6, 2015) was an American huma]n rights activist and humanitarian aid worker from Prescott, Arizona. She was taken captive in August 2013 in Aleppo, Syria, after leaving a Doctors Without Borders hospital. Media had long reported that a 26-year-old American aid worker was being held by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) without naming her, at her family’s request. In 2015, she was killed in uncertain circumstances, after being raped several times by her captors.
The operation that killed the degenerate #baghdadi was named after a real hero Kayla Mueller who despite the most horrific treatment at the hands of #ISIS displayed courage & selflessness while in captivity & refused to renounce her Christian faith. https://t.co/crjEvnDC3O
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) October 27, 2019
Kayla Mueller Early Life
Mueller was a native of Prescott, Arizona. After graduating from Tri-City College Prep High School in 2007, she attended Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.
Mueller was a Christian.
Mueller supported causes that supported humanitarian aid, human rights, youth mentorship, and environmental activism. Her involvement in human rights activism and humanitarian aid included working in India with Tibetan refugees. Her work in the Middle East included volunteering for the pro-Palestinian activist group the International Solidarity Movement and helping African refugees in Israel with the African Refugees Development Center. Other humanitarian and activist causes Mueller was involved in at home and abroad were Vrindavan Food For Life, which provides free food, education, and medical care for those in need; and during college, Food Not Bombs.
Glad that #alBaghdadi killed himself in an operation named after Kayla Mueller, the young Christian woman he abused for more than a year.
— Jon Brown (@JonBrownDC) October 27, 2019
Kayla Mueller Abduction by ISIS
Mueller started working in southern Turkey in December 2012, where she was assisting Syrian refugees. On August 3, 2013, she travelled to the northern Syrian city of Aleppo with her Syrian boyfriend, a contractor hired to install some communications equipment at the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Aleppo. Although she worked with the international aid agency Support to Life in Turkey, this was not a work-related trip for Mueller. Doctors Without Borders staff were “flabbergasted” at Mueller’s arrival, since Syria was dangerous for international aid workers. The following day, Doctors Without Borders staff tried to drive Mueller to a bus station so that she could travel back to Turkey. However, the car was ambushed, and both Mueller and the Syrian man were abducted by ISIS. The Syrian man was later freed.
“American hostage Kayla Mueller was tortured, verbally abused, forced into slave labor for ISIS commanders in Syria and raped by the group’s top leader.”
This rapist is who media called “austere religious scholar” (WaPo) and “spiritually gifted” (NYT).https://t.co/5hnwE4tod6
— Mike Cernovich (@Cernovich) October 27, 2019
Kayla Mueller Career History
The U.S. military and Mueller’s family attempted several times to rescue Mueller, devoting large resources to the search. In July 2014, U.S. special operations forces (from Delta Force and Navy SEAL Team Six) raided an abandoned oil refinery near Raqqa in an unsuccessful attempt to find reporter James Foley (whom ISIS later murdered) and other hostages. The commandos found evidence that the hostages had recently been held there, finding writing on the cell walls and hair believed to be Mueller’s, but the refinery was empty.
A Mueller family spokesman said that Mueller’s parents “often communicated with the White House in trying to free their daughter.” In the summer 2014, as other options were exhausted, Mueller’s parents asked President Obama in a letter to consider trading Mueller for Aafia Siddiqui, a convicted terrorist serving 86 years in federal prison; Siddiqui’s release has been a long-sought demand of ISIS and al-Qaeda. The proposed exchange did not take place; the Obama administration had also rejected demands from other militant groups to exchange Siddiqui.
Catherine Herridge of Fox News reported via anonymous sources that the location of Mueller and other American hostages was known by the White House in May 2014. However, a decision regarding a rescue mission was not made for seven weeks, because the White House had asked for further intelligence to be obtained. By that time, the hostages had been dispersed.
In August 2015, the New York Times reported that Mueller had been forced into marriage to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who raped her repeatedly. She had also been tortured.
It had also been reported in May 2015 that Mueller was a “personal captive” of Abu Sayyaf. In August 2015, ABC News reported that Abu Sayyaf’s widow, Umm Sayyaf, had confirmed that al-Baghdadi had been Mueller’s primary abuser.
”Austere religious scholar at helm of Islamic State dies at 48” reads the headline of WashPost’s obituary of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. “Austere”? What an insult to the late Kayla Mueller, a captured American who was repeatedly raped by the ISIS leader before the group murdered her. pic.twitter.com/ms242oQ0Nj
— Kelly Jane Torrance (@KJTorrance) October 27, 2019
Fellow captives who were released or escaped reported Mueller’s strength and compassion. She was concerned for the safety of others, even intentionally passing up an escape attempt to give other women a better chance at freedom. After months of prolonged torture and abuse, ISIS members attempted to use her as propaganda by claiming she had abandoned her Christian faith in front of other male prisoners, but she denied it. Daniel Rye Ottosen, a Danish freelance photographer and fellow captive, said that the men in the room “…were impressed by the strength that she showed in front of us. That was very clear.
Kayla Mueller Death
A media account affiliated with ISIS released a statement on February 6, 2015, claiming that a female American hostage held by the group was killed by one of around a dozen Jordanian airstrikes in Raqqa. The statement came just days after the release of a video showing the burning alive of a Jordanian fighter pilot, Muath al-Kasasbeh, by ISIS and the subsequent execution of Sajida Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi and other prisoners of Jordan. The statement was later translated by the SITE Intelligence Group, identifying the hostage as Mueller. Other reports claimed Mueller was killed in an American airstrike. Mueller had been a hostage of ISIL for 18 months.
On February 6, 2015, ISIS published a photo of a damaged building, and alleged Mueller had been killed in a Jordanian airstrike in the building where she was left alone with no guards, but no proof of death was provided. The Pentagon agreed the building was one hit in the bombings, but disputed that Mueller or any other civilian had been inside at the time. The site had been bombed by the coalition twice before, and was targeted again because ISIS soldiers sometimes return to bombed sites, thinking the coalition would not bomb those sites again, according to Pentagon spokesman John Kirby. After this, Mueller’s name was released by American and other media with the family’s consent.
The @washingtonpost’s ‘austere religious scholar’ & @bloomberg’s ‘little-known teacher of Koranic recitation’ & ‘ruler of an entity’==> “U.S. hostage Kayla Mueller had her fingernails pulled out before being repeatedly raped by ISIS leader” https://t.co/zsk9aHD8Hs
— Tammy Bruce (@HeyTammyBruce) October 28, 2019
On February 10, 2015, Mueller’s family announced ISIS had confirmed her death to them in an e-mail, with three photographs of her dead body, bruised on the face and wearing a black hijab. National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said this message was authenticated by the intelligence community. President Barack Obama offered his condolences to Mueller’s family.
On August 24, 2016, ABC News reported that Doctors Without Borders had declined to help negotiate her release. MSF then issued their version of the story which they have since deleted from their website but an archived copy is still available online.
Kayla Mueller Legal Proceedings
— Sharyl Attkisson🕵️♂️ (@SharylAttkisson) October 27, 2019
On February 8, 2016, Umm Sayyaf was charged by American prosecutors in Virginia with providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization that resulted in a person’s death. The federal charge carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. She remains in Iraqi custody on terrorism-related charges.