Twenty-two year old Kayla Mueller started assisting Syrian refugees in Turkey in December 2012. On 3rd August 2013, she travelled to Aleppo, Syria, with a Syrian resident to install communication equipment at Doctors Without Borders hospital in Aleppo. Doctors Without Borders staff cautioned her presence in middle of a civil war. Fearing her safety decided to send her back to Turkey.
A day later, Mueller, along with the Syrian resident, were being driven to a bus stop so that she can go back to Turkey when she, along with the Syrian resident, were abducted by the ISIS. Her companion was released a few months later but Mueller never made it.
Nine months after she disappeared, in May 2014, Mueller’s parents received first message from her abductors. The ISIS gave proof that she was alive. On 12th July, 2014, her parents received another message. They were asked to give them 5 million Euros as ransom within 30 days if they wanted her alive. Or they could exchange Mueller for Pakistani scientist who studied in US, Dr Aafia Siddiqui, who was convicted of killing US soldiers and FBI agents in Afghanistan in 2008. Dr Siddiqui was serving her sentence in a jail in Texas. As deadline passed, they didn’t get any more notes. The family hoped that their daughter Kayla may still be alive.
The US military reportedly made several attempts to rescue Mueller. As reported, in July 2014 the US troops came quite close to rescuing her during a raid in an abandoned oil factory in Raqqa, Syria. Troops found evidence of hostages being kept there like writing on the walls and hair believed to be of Kayla.
The Obama administration and her death
The Muellers, along with other parents of US hostages held by ISIS, travelled to Washington and met the Obama administration officials and tried to push them to get their children freed. Soon, the ISIS started posting beheading videos of American hostages. Soon, ISIS released a video of beheading of a Jordanian pilot who was captured by the terror organisation. Jordan, in retaliation, began bombing ISIS targets in Syria. It was reported that in one such bombings, Kayla Mueller was also killed at age 26. While in captivity, it is believed that Kayla was tortured and raped by al-Baghdadi himself. She was reportedly treated worse for being an American.
US National Security Advisor, Robert O’Brien, while speaking to the press on the operation that killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, said that the operation was named after Kayla Mueller.
“We finally brought justice to a man that beheaded the three Americans, two journalists and a humanitarian worker. And Kayla Mueller who was working as a humanitarian, great young American, idealistic, young girl. And one of the things that General Milley, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, did was named the operation that took down al-Baghdadi after Kayla Mueller, after what she had suffered. That was something that people should know. But justice was brought to those Americans who were so brutally killed, as were others, as the president pointed out,” he said.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
Dreaded terrorist and ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed on 27th October, 2019 when he detonated his suicide vest inside a tunnel following a raid by US troops. His body was buried at sea.