Kayla Mueller is an American aid worker abducted in 2013 by ISIS, and four days ago, the group claimed she was killed in a Jordanian airstrike. Her parents, Carl and Marsha Mueller, have now issued a statement confirming her death. The White House also confirmed the death in a separate statement, but gave no further details. The family wrote;
“We are heartbroken to share that we’ve received confirmation that Kayla Jean Mueller, has lost her life. We are so proud of t person Kayla wheas and the work that she did while she was here with us. She lived with purpose.”
The Muellers said they had received a message from ISIS over the weekend, which contained “additional information which the intelligence community authenticated and deemed credible.”
The family also released for the first time today, an undated letter Kayla had sent to her family, and which is said to have been smuggled out of Syria. In the letter, the ISIS hostage had written that she was OK and was not being mistreated.
“Everyone, if you are receiving this letter it means I am still detained but my cellmates … have been released. Please know that I am in a safe location, completely unharmed + healthy (put on weight in fact); I have been treated w/utmost respect + kindness.”
Kayla had been working in Turkey for at least two aid organizations dedicated to helping refugees from Syria’s civil war. According to the NYT, she traveled into Syria by car on Aug. 3, 2013, and was abducted a day later.
She apparently was traveling with a Syrian man, who has been described by some as her boyfriend or fiancé and by others as her friend or colleague. The man had been hired to repair the Internet connection at the compound used by Doctors Without Borders, the international medical charity, in the war-struck Syrian city of Aleppo.
Employees of the charity said they had been expecting him to come alone, and were dumbfounded to see Ms. Mueller arrive with him. At the time, Western aid workers were avoiding travel into Syria because of the high risk of kidnapping.
The pair stayed overnight at the Doctors Without Borders compound, and were kidnapped the next day, Aug. 4, on their way to the Aleppo bus depot for their return journey to Turkey, according to a statement issued by the charity. The Syrian man was released after a brief captivity, and has declined to comment.
Below is a picture and the full text of the letter Kayla sent to her parents while she was held captive by ISIS [via AP]
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 cell mates 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,