Islamic State Claims American Hostage Kayla Mueller Killed in Jordanian Airstrike
Islamic State claimed on Friday that a 26-year-old American woman being held hostage by the militant group was killed in a Jordanian airstrike against it in Syria.
A statement released by IS said Kayla Mueller, of Prescott, Arizona, was killed by Jordanian warplanes bombing Raqqa, the group’s de facto capital, in retaliation for burning alive captured Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh, ABC News reports.
Video of al-Kasasbeh’s horrific execution sparked outrage in Jordan, where the authoritarian monarchy responded by executing two suspected IS militants and vowing to fight the group until Jordanian forces “run out of fuel and bullets.”
A National Security Council (NSC) spokesperson told reporters that it has “not at this time seen any evidence that corroborates ISIL’s claim,” using the US government’s preferred acronym for Islamic State.
Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh called the IS claim “an old and sick trick.”
“So they behead innocent #US #UK & Japan hostages & BURN a brave #jordan pilot ALIVE & now a hostage is killed by an airstrike? Sure! Sick!” Judeh tweeted on Friday, referring to other atrocities committed, recorded and disseminated by IS fighters.
A Jordanian official told ABC News that the IS claim is “illogical.”
“We need to be very careful not to fall in their trap,” the official said.
Mueller, a 2009 graduate of Northern Arizona University, told her hometown newspaper, the Prescott Daily Courier, that she was going on a humanitarian mission to help Syrian war refugees. In late 2012, she traveled to the war-ravaged nation to work with an aid group called Support Life, which helps families flee the fighting.
“Syrians are dying by the thousands, and they’re fighting just to talk about the rights we have,” Mueller said. “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,” she added. “And from that place, start caring and get a lot done.”
While working in Syria, Mueller reunited family members separated during bombing attacks and helped children cope with the horrors of war by comforting and playing with them.
“We give and get joy from playing with these children,” Mueller told the Daily Courier.
Mueller was abducted in August 2013 while working at an Aleppo hospital with Spanish Doctors Without Borders. Her family later received a ‘proof of life’ video, along with a ransom demand for several million euros threatening to execute her if not paid.
The Washington Post notes Mueller would be the fourth American hostage killed by IS militants since August.