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The White House and Family Confirms the Death of Kayla Mueller

Amanda Scurlock |
February 11, 2015 | 9:53 a.m. PST

Web Producer

(The Guardian/Twitter)
(The Guardian/Twitter)
Kayla Mueller, an American aid worker who was taken captive by the Islamic State, has been confirmed dead Tuesday. Family members of Mueller and President Barak Obama confirmed only a few days after the Islamic State announced her death according to Reuters. 

The Islamic State said Mueller was killed when Jordanian fighter jets bombed a building she was held captive in. However, U.S. Officials said there is no evidence to that claim, according to Reuters. Although ISIS announced her death, Mueller’s family hoped against hope that she was alive. 

Mueller was the last known American hostage and the only women to have died while being held hostage by the Islamic State, according to Reuters.

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Her family calls Mueller an “compassionate and devoted humanitarian.” She traveled to Turkey in December 2012 to work with humanitarian groups and give aid to Syrian refugees according to CNN. According to her family, the aid worker worked with groups such as Support to Life and the Danish Refugee Council.

In August 2013, the Islamic State kidnapped her while she was leaving a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Aleppo, Syria.  ISIS contacted the family about Mueller in May, and then later threatened to kill her if they did not pay them $7 million by Aug. 13, according to CNN.

The Family of Mueller beseeched the government, friends and the media to keep the capture a secret believing that releasing her identity would doom Mueller, according to USA Today.

Obama said the administration tried to save Mueller, referring to a raid in northern Syria at an oil refinery last year, according to The Guardian. During her time in captivity, Mueller sent letters to her family, telling them she was being treated well and was in a safe location, according to Rueters. 

Mueller dedicated years to helping women and children, both inside and outside the United States. In 2007, she received the Gold Presidential Volunteer Service Award for her efforts at several organizations including AmeriCorps, Youth Count, and America’s Promise, according to AZ Central.

She graduated from Northern Arizona University in 2009, according to Reuters. Mueller then traveled to the Middle East and began working in aid organizations in Israel, northern India and the Palestinian territories, according to the Los Angeles Times. 


In 2011, Mueller returned to Arizona to work in a HIV/AIDS clinic. She also volunteered at a women’s shelter. 

The citizens of Mueller’s hometown Prescott, Arizona have been praying for her deliverance and paying tribute to her life throughout the weekend, according to the Guardian. 

Many political figures sent their condolences to the Mueller family. Obama said “Kayla represents what is best about America,” while expressing sympathy to the Mueller family. 

United States Secretary of State John Kerry blames solely the Islamic State for the death of Mueller. Senator John McCain spoke on the floor of the Senate in regards to the death of the aid worker. He read passages from letters Mueller wrote to her family, according to USA Today.

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey ordered all state government buildings to fly their flags half-staff in honor of Mueller until Wednesday evening, according to CNN.

Reach Web Producer Amanda Scurlock here and follow her on Twitter here.



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