The parents of an American woman held by Islamic State militants say they have been notified of her death, and President Barack Obama has issued a statement condemning the terrorist organization and offering condolences to Mueller’s family.
Carl and Marsha Mueller, the parents of Kayla Mueller, released a statement on Tuesday saying they have been told that she has died.
Mueller had previously been a humanitarian worker in India, the Middle East and at an HIV/Aids clinic in her home state of Arizona.
Family confirms death of American ISIL hostage Kayla MuellerNathan King reported this story from Washington, D.C.
“I will not give in no matter how long it takes,” Kayla wrote in a spring, 2014 letter to her friends and family, which her parents also released Tuesday. “I have been treated w/ the utmost respect + kindness. … I have been shown in darkness, light + have learned that even in prison, one can be free.”
The Islamic State group said Friday that the 26-year-old Mueller died in a Jordanian airstrike. But at the time the government of Jordan dismissed the statement as propaganda.
The White House said that Mueller’s family received a private message from her captors over the weekend and the information contained in that communication was authenticated by the U.S. intelligence community. It was not immediately clear how and when she died.
Mueller was the only known remaining U.S. hostage held by the Islamic State group. She was taken into captivity in August 2013 while leaving a hospital in Syria. Friends of hers created ForKayla.org after she was taken hostage.
The above images were released by Mueller’s family Tuesday.
Statement by the Mueller family confirming the death of their daughter
Carl and Marsha Mueller, the parents of Kayla Jean Mueller, together with Kayla’s brother Eric and his family, Tuesday released the following statement:
We are heartbroken to share that we’ve received confirmation that Kayla Jean Mueller, has lost her life.
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.
In a letter to her father on his birthday in 2011, Kayla wrote:
‘I find God in the suffering eyes reflected in mine. If this is how you are revealed to me, this is how I will forever seek you.’
‘I will always seek God. Some people find God in church. Some people find God in nature. Some people find God in love; I find God in suffering. I’ve known for some time what my life’s work is, using my hands as tools to relieve suffering.’
Kayla was drawn to help those displaced by the Syrian civil war. She first traveled to Turkey in December, 2012 to provide humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees. She told us of the great joy she took in helping Syrian children and their families.
We are so proud of the person Kayla was and the work that she did while she was here with us. She lived with purpose, and we will work every day to honor her legacy.
Our hearts are breaking for our only daughter, but we will continue on in peace, dignity, and love for her.
We remain heartbroken, also, for the families of the other captives who did not make it home safely and who remain in our thoughts and prayers. We pray for a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Syria.
Letter from Kayla to her family, received spring 2014
Everyone, If you are receiving this letter it means I am still detained but my cell mates (starting from 11/2/2014) have been released. I have asked them to contact you + send you this letter. It’s hard to know what to say.
Please know that I am in a safe location, completely unharmed + healthy(put on weight in fact); I have been treated w/ the utmost respect + kindness. I wanted to write you all a well thought out letter (but I didn’t know if my cellmates would be leaving in the coming days or the coming months restricting my time but primarily) I could only but write the letter a paragraph at a time, just the thought of you all sends me into a fit of tears.
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 will never ask you to forgive me as I do not deserve forgiveness.
I remember mom always telling me that all in all in the end the only one you really have is God. I have come to a place in experience where, in every sense of the word, I have surrendered myself to our creator b/c literally there was no else….+ by God + by your prayers I have felt tenderly cradled in freefall.
I have been shown in darkness, light + have learned that even in prison, one can be free. I am grateful.
I have come to see that there is good in every situation, sometimes we just have to look for it. I pray each each day that if nothing else, you have felt a certain closeness + surrender to God as well + have formed a bond of love + support amongst one another…
I miss you all as if it has been a decade of forced separation. I have had many a long hour to think, to think of all the things I will do w/ Lex, our first family camping trip, the first meeting @ the airport.I have had many hours to think how only in your absence have I finally @ 25 years old come to realize your place in my life.
The gift that is each one of you + the person I could + could not be if you were not a part of my life, my family, my support. I DO NOT want the negotiations for my release to be your duty, if there is any other option take it, even if it takes more time.
This should never have become your burden. I have asked these women to support you; please seek their advice. If you have not done so already, [REDACTED] can contact [REDACTED] who may have a certain level of experience with these people.
None of us could have known it would be this long but know I am also fighting from my side in the ways I am able + 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.
I wrote a song some months ago that says, “The part of me that pains the most also gets me out of bed, w/out your hope there would be nothing left…” aka - The thought of your pain is the source of my own, simultaneously the hope of our reunion is the source of my strength.
Please be patient, give your pain to God. 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.
All my everything,
Statement by President Barack Obama on the death of Kayla Mueller
It is with profound sadness that we have learned of the death of Kayla Jean Mueller. 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 dedicated her life to helping others in need at home and around the world. In Prescott, Arizona, she volunteered at a women’s shelter and worked at an HIV/AIDS clinic. She worked with humanitarian organizations in India, Israel, and the Palestinian territories, compelled by her desire to serve others. Eventually, her path took her to Turkey, where she helped provide comfort and support to Syrian refugees forced to flee their homes during the war. Kayla’s compassion and dedication to assisting those in need shows us that even amongst unconscionable evil, the essential decency of humanity can live on.
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. She said: “Here we are. Free to speak out without fear of being killed, blessed to be protected by the same law we are subjected to, free to see our families as we please, free to cross borders and free to disagree. We have many people to thank for these freedoms and I see it as an injustice not to use them to their fullest.”
Kayla Mueller used these freedoms she so cherished to improve the lives of others. In how she lived her life, she epitomized all that is good in our world. She has been taken from us, but her legacy endures, inspiring all those who fight, each in their own way, for what is just and what is decent. No matter how long it takes, the United States will find and bring to justice the terrorists who are responsible for Kayla’s captivity and death.
ISIL is a hateful and abhorrent terrorist group whose actions stand in stark contrast to the spirit of people like Kayla. On this day, we take comfort in the fact that the future belongs not to those who destroy, but rather to the irrepressible force of human goodness that Kayla Mueller shall forever represent.
Story includes reporting by The Associated Press
Author Edwin Smith of USC discusses death of Kayla Mueller
CCTV America interviewed Edwin Smith, professor of law and international relations at University Southern California about the death of American ISIL hostage Kayla Mueller.
Author Edwin Smith of USC discusses death of Kayla MuellerCCTV America interviewed Edwin Smith, professor of law and international relations at University Southern California about the death of American ISIL hostage Kayla Mueller.
Peter Finn of Washington Post discusses Kayla Mueller’s death
CCTV America also interviewed Peter Finn, national security editor of Washington Post, about the White House confirmation that Kayla Mueller was killed.