WASHINGTON — The White House has confirmed the death of an American aid worker that had been taken hostage by the barbaric Islamic group ISIS, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
Kayla Mueller, 26, of Prescott, Arizona had traveled to Syria in 2013 to work with the Danish Refugee Council and Support to Life, a humanitarian organization that helps displaced Syrians affected by the country’s civil war. Mueller had dedicated her life to aid work, traveling to Israel, India and Palestine to participate in humanitarian efforts in recent years. She also volunteered for an HIV/AIDS clinic in the United States, as well as a shelter for women.
“I am in solidarity with the Syrian people,” Mueller stated in a video recorded in 2011. “I reject the brutality and killing that the Syrian authorities are committing against the Syrian people.”
But while serving the people of Syria in 2013, she was taken captive by ISIS, and last May, the Islamic group contacted Mueller’s family to demand over $6 million in ransom to save her life.
Last Friday, ISIS claimed that Mueller had been killed during a Jordanian airstrike in Raqqa, which served as retaliation for last week’s brutal burning death of pilot Moaz al-Kassasbeh, but no provided no further substantiation for the claim other than a photograph of a destroyed building. Therefore, Mueller’s family would not accept word of her death and remained hopeful that she might still be alive contrary to claims.
But Bernadette Meehan, a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, told ABC News on Tuesday that the family “received a private message from Kayla’s ISIL [ISIS] captors containing additional information.”
“Once this information was authenticated by the intelligence community, they concluded that Kayla was deceased,” she explained.
Barack Obama has issued a statement today as well expressing sorrow over Mueller’s death.
“It is with profound sadness that we have learned of the death of Kayla Jean Mueller,” a White House statement reads. “On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I convey our deepest condolences to Kayla’s family—her parents, Marsha and Carl, and her brother Eric and his family—and all of those who loved Kayla dearly. At this time of unimaginable suffering, the country shares in their grief.”
“Kayla represents what is best about America, and expressed her deep pride in the freedoms that we Americans enjoy, and that so many others strive for around the world,” it continues. “In how she lived her life, she epitomized all that is good in our world.”
Mueller’s parents have likewise issued a statement following the conclusion that their daughter is indeed deceased.
“We are heartbroken to share that we’ve received confirmation that Kayla Jean Mueller, has lost her life,” they wrote. “Kayla was a compassionate and devoted humanitarian. She dedicated the whole of her young life to helping those in need from freedom, justice and peace. … Our hearts are breaking for our only daughter, but we will continue in peace, dignity and love for her.”