“We are heartbroken to share that we’ve received confirmation that Kayla Jean Mueller has lost her life,” said a Tuesday statement issued by Mueller’s family after family members received a private message from ISIS confirming her death. According to CBS News, the email from ISIS included a photograph of her body. However, the above-linked video coverage by USA Today notes that US intelligence officials have yet to determine the time and cause of her death.
ISIS claimed last Friday that Mueller, a 26-year-old US aid worker who was reportedly captured by the terror group in August of 2013 in Aleppo, Syria, was the only casualty in a Jordanian air strike on an ISIS compound in Raqqa, Syria. Jordanian officials referred to ISIS’ claim as a “PR stunt” aimed at igniting hostilities between the US and Jordan. On January 3, ISIS secretly executed Jordanian pilot Lt. Moath al-Kasasbeh but continued to offer his safe release as a bargaining chip in negotiations with Jordan throughout the month, raising suspicions that Mueller might have already been dead prior to the Jordanian air strike that ISIS says killed Mueller.
ABC News notes that President Obama released a statement on Mueller’s death, saying, “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.”
At the time of her capture, Kayla Jean Mueller was reportedly working to help reunite Syrian families torn apart by war and disappeared after leaving a Doctors Without Borders hospital. Her family released a letter today which was written by Mueller during her captivity and received by family members prior to her death. ABC News notes that the letter opens with an explanation as to how Mueller managed to get the missive to her family, which says, “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 and send you this letter. It’s hard to know what to say.”
The heart-breaking letter continued, “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 because literally there was no else….and by God and by your prayers I have felt tenderly cradled in freefall.”
In a 2013 interview with The Daily Courier, Mueller explained her passion for helping the Syrian people and said, “Syrians are dying by the thousands, and they’re fighting just to talk about the rights we have… For as long as I live, I will not let this suffering be normal. [I will not let this be] something we just accept. It’s important to stop and realize what we have, why we have it and how privileged we are. And from that place, start caring and get a lot done.”
Mueller’s family’s statement said, “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… Our hearts are breaking for our only daughter, but we will continue in peace, dignity and love for her.”