Family of Hostage ISIS Says Is Dead: We're Still Hopeful

Kayla Mueller's family releases statement
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 7, 2015 7:27 AM CST
Family of Hostage ISIS Says Is Dead: We're Still Hopeful
In this May 30, 2013, photo, Kayla Mueller is shown after speaking to a group in Prescott, Ariz.   (Jo. L. Keener)

The parents of a 26-year-old woman who ISIS extremists say has been killed in an airstrike in northern Syria have said in a statement addressed to group leaders that the claim of their daughter's death concerned them but they were still hopeful she was alive. ISIS said yesterday that Kayla Jean Mueller of Prescott, Arizona, died in a Jordanian airstrike, but the government of Jordan dismissed the statement as "criminal propaganda" and the US said it had not seen any evidence to corroborate the report. Mueller is the only known remaining US hostage held by the terror group. "You told us that you treated Kayla as your guest, as your guest her safety and well-being remains your responsibility," the statement from Mueller's parents says.

Mueller is an aid worker who has previously volunteered with aid groups in India, Israel, and the Palestinian territories. Her identity had not been disclosed until now out of fears for her safety. Her family said she was taken hostage by ISIS on Aug. 4, 2013, while leaving a hospital in Syria; she had been working in Turkey assisting Syrian refugees. "The common thread of Kayla's life has been her quiet leadership and strong desire to serve others," Mueller's family said in the short statement released yesterday. If her death is confirmed, she would be the fourth American to die while being held by ISIS militants. Three other Americans—journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and aid worker Peter Kassig—were beheaded by the group. (Read more ISIS stories.)

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