The family of Kayla Mueller, the 26-year old American aid worker who was taken hostage by ISIS, said Tuesday that she’s dead.
“We are heartbroken to share that we’ve received confirmation that Kayla Jean Mueller, has lost her life,” Mueller’s parents said in a statement. “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.”
ISIS claimed last week that Mueller was killed by a Jordanian airstrike. The family did not elaborate how it learned of Mueller’s death or the circumstances surrounding it.
The Daily Beast’s Shane Harris reports the family said earlier Tuesday that they did not ask the U.S. military to ditch a rescue mission last year. The family’s statement contradicts a report over the weekend by Foreign Policy that claimed the Muellers “did not want the U.S. military to launch a risky mission to rescue her,” citing an unnamed military official. The official went on to say that, as a result, “gatekeepers within the U.S. government rejected some military plans” to save Mueller before they were presented to Obama.
The family tells The Daily Beast that they asked the Obama administration to keep them in the loop about any planned military mission—a request that officials granted, according to a Mueller family spokesperson. “The family requested to be notified in advance if there were to be a raid, and also just to be kept apprised of their efforts. And the White House agreed,” the spokesperson said. It was “not true” that the family had asked officials to forgo a rescue mission, she added.
The family’s request came after a failed mission in Syria last July to rescue American hostages; strands of Mueller’s hair were reportedly found at a site where ISIS was believed to have been holding her and other American captives who are now dead. The agreement between the White House and the Muellers came as Obama and his senior leaders were taking fire for not keeping families well informed about efforts to rescue their loved ones.
The Mueller family share a letter they received from her that appears to have been sent after November 2, 2014 in which she states she is in good health. “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," she wrote.