One never knows how seriously to take the output of the Islamic State’s media apparatus, but they announced on Friday morning that their female American hostage, Kayla Jean Mueller, was killed in a Jordanian air strike.
According to the New York Times, a message from the Islamic State claims that Mueller “was killed when the building where she was being held in the Raqqa area collapsed” following what the terror state described as a “failed” Jordanian bombing mission that did not injure any of their fighters. The Jordanian military has stepped up operations against the Islamic State following the videotaped immolation of a pilot held captive by ISIS. The announcement of Mueller’s death was accompanied by several photos of her, none of them apparently recent.
Mueller, believed to be the last American hostage in ISIS’ clutches, is a 26-year-old Arizona native who volunteered for work with a humanitarian aid group in Syria. She was captured along with several of her fellow aid workers last year. The others were later released, while ISIS reportedly demanded a $6.6 million ransom for Mueller. Her identity has been kept confidential by U.S. authorities and her family until now, out of fears for her safety.
Mueller’s hometown paper, the Daily Courier of Prescott, Arizona, published a story about Mueller’s efforts to help refugees from the Syrian civil war in 2013, during one of her return visits to the United States:
A man searching for his Syrian family after their refugee camp in Turkey was bombed was reunited with a 6-year-old relative thanks to Prescott resident Kayla Mueller.
After looking frantically for missing family members, he eventually found an 11-year-old girl alive at a hospital, but learned his wife had died, and could not find the boy.
The man turned to Mueller, who works in Turkey with the international humanitarian aid agency Support to Life. He gave her a video image of the boy, and she later found him after he came out of surgery at another hospital.
Mueller spoke Wednesday about her experiences to the Prescott Kiwanis Club, where her father Carl Mueller is a member.
“This story is not rare in Syria,” Mueller said. “This is the reality for Syrians two and a half years on. When Syrians hear I’m an American, they ask, ‘Where is the world?’ All I can do is cry with them, because I don’t know.”
Mueller said after learning more about the situation in Syria, she was drawn to help and finds now she “can’t do enough.”
She talked about her delight at playing with Syrian children in the refugee camps, and vowed that “as long as I live, I will not let this suffering be normal, something we just accept.”