February 10, 2015 by Bill Johnson
DEVELOPING: The parents of Kayla Mueller, the Arizona woman who was taken hostage by ISIS in August, 2013, confirmed Tuesday their daughter died while in the hands of the terror group.
“We are heartbroken to share that we’ve received confirmation that Kayla Jean Mueller, has lost her life,” Carl and Marsha Mueller, of Prescott, Ariz., said in a statement. “Kayla was a compassionate and devoted humanitarian. She dedicated the whole of her young life to helping those in need of freedom, justice, and peace.”
The family received information from their daughter’s ISIS captors over the weekend that was authenticated, according to U.S. officials.
“The family received a private message from Kayla’s ISIL captors containing additional information,” National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said Tuesday. “Once this information was authenticated by the intelligence community, they concluded that Kayla was deceased.”
It is not yet known how or when 26-year-old Mueller died. ISIS claimed last week she was killed by a Jordanian airstrike, but offered no immediate evidence.
President Obama issued a statement Tuesday, also acknowledging her death.
“It is with profound sadness that we have learned of the death of Kayla Jean Mueller,” Obama said. “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.”
Images of children suffering in the early stages of Syria’s ongoing civil war prompted Mueller to leave her home in Prescott, Ariz., in December, 2012, to work with the Danish Refugee Council and the humanitarian organization Support to Life to help refugees. According to a family spokesperson, Kayla found the work heartbreaking but compelling.
Mueller was captured on Aug. 4, 2013, in Aleppo, Syria — 10 days before her 25th birthday — while leaving a Spanish hospital staffed by the international humanitarian group Doctors without Borders.
In a letter written during her captivity in November 2014 and released to the public on Tuesday, Mueller wrote to her family, “If you could say I have ‘suffered’ at all throughout this whole experience it is only in knowing how much suffering I have put you all through.”
“I have a lot of fight left inside of me. I am not breaking down + I will not give in no matter how long it takes,” wrote Mueller, a 2009 graduate of Northern Arizona University. “I know you would want me to remain strong. That is exactly what I am doing. Do not fear for me, continue to pray as will I + by God’s will we will be together soon.”
Jordan has been launching airstrikes against the extremist group in response to a video released this week that shows captive Jordanian pilot Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh being burned to death in a cage.
Al-Kaseasbeh, whose F-16 came down in December while conducting airstrikes as part of a campaign against the militants by a U.S.-led coalition, was believed to have been killed in early January.
Mueller is one of four Americans to die while being held by Islamic State militants. Three other Americans — journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and aid worker Peter Kassig — were beheaded by the group.
In confirming her death, the Mueller family quoted a letter the young women penned to her father on his birthday in 2011.