American troops were ready to swoop in to help, but the plan to rescue American Kayla Mueller was deemed too risky. Marsha and Carl Mueller, parents of the captured aid worker, wanted to arrange a release for their daughter. They were in close communication with their daughter’s ISIS captors, who said that they would treat her as a guest. In exchange, both ISIS and the parents agreed not to use Kayla’s name in the media. After the Jordanian bombing of strategic spots in ISIS territory, they claimed to have killed her. The family reached out to her captors, hoping that she was still alive.
Things often do not bode well for Americans captured by ISIS. Journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, along with aid worker Peter Kassig were all beheaded. Kayla Mueller was captured in August of 2013 and subsequently given a life sentence in prison. ISIS leaders promised to release her in exchange for a Pakistani imprisoned in America.
Aafia Siddiqui is being held in a Federal Medical Center Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas, a penal institution for prisoners with special mental health needs. Charged with shooting at a FBI agent and an Army official, British and Pakistani citizens believe that her trial was a sham and the whole situation a miscarriage of justice. They claim there is no forensic evidence connecting her to the gun she allegedly shot. Siddiqui was also wanted for questioning in relation to her ties with Al-Qaeda. “Lady Al-Qaeda,” as she is known in some circles, is the daughter of a neurosurgeon and a teacher. After receiving a full scholarship to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she branched into the sciences, and later instituted a non-profit Islamic teaching and research institute in Boston. Married over the phone to a man she had never met, Siddiqui subsequently had 3 children. After 9/11, she moved back to Afghanistan to work as a doctor for the Taliban. Later, a Muslim operative fingered her as a one of the financial legs for Al-Qaeda.
Phoenix-native Kayla Mueller’s life has been marked by “quiet leadership and a strong desire to serve others.” Her mother remarked that she has always been interested in philanthropic causes, earning the Gold Presidential Volunteer Award in high school. At college she continued in that vein, fighting to raise awareness about the genocide in Darfur, Africa. Not forgetting her community, she spent time volunteering at a HIV shelter in nearby Arizona. After a stint in France where she worked as an au pair to learn the language, she migrated to Turkey to work with Support for Life, a Danish refugee council assisting people who had to flee their home. This feat caught the eye of her local paper, the Prescott Daily Courier, who profiled her long humanitarian work. She began working with Syrian refugees along the Syria-Turkey border and was captured upon leaving a Doctors Without Borders hospital. Imprisoned for 9 months, ISIS made contact with Kayla Mueller’s family. The plan to rescue American Kayla Mueller was deemed too risky by her parents. They asked for proof of life and preferred to negotiate her release.
Attempts to rescue hostages do not always go well. Although a Swiss couple, David O. and Daniela W escaped their ISIS captors, Scottish aid worker Linda Norgrove was killed when she intercepted a bomb intended for her abductors. This is an example of why the plan to rescue American Kayla Mueller was deemed too risky, and why her parents decided not to enlist the aid of American troops to secure the release of their daughter.
By Danielle Branch
Photo courtesy of dbkfrog – Flickr
Photo courtesy of Witness – Flickr