U.S. government sources have confirmed the rumor that Kayla Mueller, the American aid worker held by ISIS in Syria, is dead.
Mueller, a 26-year-old from Prescott, Ariz., had been missing since August 2013. While the terrorist group alleged on Friday that she had died in Jordanian airstrikes on ISIS territory, there had been no independently verifiable evidence of her death. (RELATED: ISIS Claims Female 26-Year-Old US Hostage Killed In Jordanian Airstrikes)
She had been involved in humanitarian and charity work since high school, speaking out about genocide in Darfur and working at a women’s shelter before traveling to volunteer in India and Israel. Suffering and displacement from Syria’s civil war attracted her in 2012 to serve refugees in southern Turkey. She had been working at a hospital in Aleppo, Syria, organized by Doctors Without Borders, when she was abducted.
In a statement, Mueller’s family said that the “common thread of Kayla’s life has been her quiet leadership and strong desire to serve others.” They have directed interested parties to the website forkayla.org, which was made by her friends.
It is unclear how American intelligence confirmed her death, though in the past Mueller’s family had received updates on her status directly from ISIS. Jordanian officials have expressed doubts about the extremists’ account that Mueller, a high-value American hostage, was alone and unmonitored in a building when air raids turned it to rubble, shelling the area for an hour and leaving every terrorist unscathed.
Mueller is believed to have been the last American hostage in ISIS custody.
President Barack Obama said in a statement that she “represents what is best about America,” and that “the future belongs not to those who destroy, but rather to the irrepressible force of human goodness that Kayla Mueller shall forever represent.”
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