America is mourning Kayla Mueller, the first American woman to die by the hands of the Islamic State. The circumstances surrounding Kayla Mueller’s death are yet to be discovered, but ISIS claims she died after a Jordanian airstrike hit the building where she was being held captive. The Islamic militant group sent photos of her corpse to her family. The U.S. intelligence has confirmed her death but is disputing ISIS’ version of events leading up to her demise.
President Barack Obama spoke to BuzzFeed News about Kayla Mueller’s death. The President said he was heartbroken upon learning of the death of the 26-year-old humanitarian worker. He stated that the United States was unsuccessful in its efforts to rescue Kayla and other hostages held by the terrorist group. Obama debunked claims that the U.S. government had not done enough to save the life of the young American.
Fox News reported that the government had received strong intelligence – which could have perhaps led to her rescue – but may have waited too long to take action. Nevertheless, the White House, insist that the government took action when it felt confident that the mission would be successful. The President claims that the operation he deployed missed the captives by a day or two.
An ongoing conversation about payment of ransom to terrorist groups in order to free hostages has gained renewed momentum following Kayla Mueller’s death. An increasing number of Americans feel that the U.S. stance on ransom payments should be reviewed.
In the BuzzFeed interview, President Obama indicated that the changes being made to the U.S. hostage policy would not include allowing payments of ransom to terrorists. He said payment of ransom could put the lives of Americans in more danger. He argued that terrorists would most likely increase kidnappings to get cash.
According to the New York Times, Kayla had followed her boyfriend to Syria after he was contracted by Doctors Without Borders to fix their Internet connection at their offices in Syria. She was, however, briefed on the dangers of staying in Syria and encouraged to go back to Turkey. It was during her journey back that her car was ambushed. She and the Syrian who accompanied her were kidnapped. The native Syrian was later released.
So far, there has been nothing to suggest she was tortured or mistreated in any way during her time in captivity. According to a letter she sent to her family, she said the suffering she could talk about was putting her family through the agony she knew they were going through knowing she was being held hostage.
Kayla Mueller’s family made the letter public on Tuesday. In it, she said she was safe, unharmed, and healthy.
An emotional Lori Lyon talked about her niece’s passion toward helping those who are suffering. She said Kayla Mueller had done more in her incredible 26 years than most people do in a lifetime. Kayla’s friend Eryn Street said she had great empathy; it was her greatest strength.
Leslie Alamer, Kayla’s former classmate has helped her family set up a website in honor of Mueller’s legacy. On the website’s homepage is a quote from the departed 26-year-old aid worker. It reads in part, “This really is my life’s work, to go where there is suffering.”
Written by Solomon Ndungu