The Islamic State claims that humanitarian U.S. aid worker Kayla Mueller, who was being detained, and had been used in an attempt of extortion of money from her parents, was killed during Jordanian airstrikes in Syria on Friday.
Jordan dismisses this allegation, saying that it is being said in order to cause division amongst the allies who have joined forced to fight the Islamic State. ISIS has neither provided proof of her life or death. Those are the facts about the unknown state of Kayla’s Mueller’s existence today. But who is Kayla Mueller? Why haven’t we heard her name until now?
Her parents, Carl and Marsha Mueller, said they have gone to extraordinary lengths to keep her name out of the media at the demands of ISIS.
“After going to extraordinary efforts to keep Kayla’s name out of the media for so long, by securing the cooperation of journalists throughout the world, her name was released today.”
The fresh-faced 26-year-old from Prescott, Arizona, had graduated from college in 2009, and immediately became a humanitarian worker in war-torn and impoverished areas such as India and Syria. She was taken captive in August, 2013, in Syria by ISIS as she attempted to travel from one area to another. ISIS chose to speak to her parents directly and demanded that they not release the information about her to the press.
Before going to Northern Arizona University, Kayla showed an affinity for the suffering and those who suffered injustice around the world, particularly children. She also worked for the Save Darfur coalition, wrote letters to members of Congress, took part in environmental causes and was honored with a local award for activism.
After graduating from college, her activism eventually led her to the Turkish-Syrian border, where she worked with people who had been displaced because of war atrocities. During a trip home to Prescott in 2013, she spoke of the people she worked with and the work she did.
“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. I am in solidarity with the Syrian people. I reject the brutality and killing that the Syrian authorities are committing against the Syrian people.”
Last May, the Mueller family received confirmation their daughter had been taken hostage during a delayed bus trip return from a Doctors Without Borders Mission Trip in Syria, the family spokeswoman said. The information provided “proof of life.” The family hasn’t said whether they know how she was treated.
U.S. troops may have come close to rescuing Mueller last July when they staged a daring raid at a location inside Syria in an attempt to find hostages, and believe they found Mueller’s hair in certain cells where detainees had been kept.
In a note to Kayla Mueller’s family last summer, ISIS said it had grown tired of waiting and demanded 5 million Euros by August 13, according to a family spokesperson. It’s unknown whether that execution date was kept by ISIS, but no proof has been given that she is alive.
The Islamic State’s hostage and ransom tactics are well known and publicly condemned by the world now, in addition to the brutal means of killing hostages that they record and share with the world. Earlier this week, they released footage of a Jordanian pilot detainee being burned alive in a cage, and have also shown videos of journalist detainees being beheaded, sometimes by children.
Although the plight of Kayla Mueller remains unknown, her parents have asked for privacy, and several police cars guard her parents’ residence in Arizona tonight.