An exclusive report from Foreign Policy reveals that Kayla Mueller, an American aid worker who was taken hostage by ISIS and killed in their custody, reportedly turned down an escape opportunity to stay with a fellow hostage who could not join the attempt.
Mueller had been working in Aleppo, Syria with Doctors Without Borders when she was kidnapped in 2012. The source of the story, a teenage Yazidi girl who escaped from ISIS, said that she and Mueller were eventually taken as slaves by ISIS senior official Abu Sayyaf, as well as a unidentified older Western aid worker who was in “poor health”. (The woman was not named, nor was her nationality.) Within months, the Yazidi girl had an unspecified opportunity to escape in April 2014; but though Mueller had the opportunity to leave as well, “she did not want to abandon the other hostage, who wasn’t up to the rigors of attempting to flee.”
Thus, Mueller stayed, while the Yazidi girl successfully made it to Iraqi Kurdistan, where she was extensively debriefed by U.S. intelligence officers. Her story was eventually given credence when, among other things, she accurately described “at least” one of Mueller’s tattoos, indicating that she’d spent significant time with the American. (Mueller’s family and the government refused to comment for the story.)
Mueller died in Syria this February, with ISIS claiming that she was killed during a Jordanian airstrike shortly after the kingdom ramped up its operations against the terrorist state. Sayaaf was killed in May during a raid on his compound, and his wife, Umm Sayaaf, taken into custody.
[Image via Mueller family]
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