CASE: Kayla had been held hostage by ISIS since August 2013 in Raqqa, a militant stronghold in northeastern Syria. The Christian aid worker was abducted in 2013 as she left a hospital operated by Doctors Without Borders in Allepo, Syria. United States confirmed on Tuesday 10 February 2015 that the 26-year-old has been killed at the hands of terror group ISIS
12 FEBRUARY 2015: Kayla Mueller, killed at hands of ISIS, drew comfort from 'deep Christian faith
The United States confirmed on Tuesday 10 February 2015 that 26-year-old American aid worker Kayla Mueller has been killed at the hands of terror group ISIS. President Barack Obama said that Mueller represented what is "best about America," while her family revealed that she drew comfort from her "deep Christian faith" while in captivity.
"Our hearts are breaking for our only daughter, but we will continue on in peace, dignity, and love for her," Mueller's parents, Carl and Marsha Mueller, and her brother, Eric, said in a statement.
The aid worker had been held hostage by ISIS since August 2013, The Guardian noted. Supporters of ISIS said last week that Mueller had been killed during a Jordanian air strike, and though the U.S. confirmed the news, it could not determine the cause of her death.
Mueller was reportedly taken by militants in Syria while working at a hospital run by humanitarian group Médecins Sans Frontières. In a letter to her family written sometime in the spring of 2014, she asked them not to worry and claimed that she was being treated with respect and was unharmed.
She said that her deep Christian faith gave her comfort during her captivity:
"I remember mom always telling me that all in all in the end the only one you really have is God. I have come to a place in experience where, in every sense of the word, I have surrendered myself to our creator. There was literally there was no one else ... + by God + by your prayers I have felt tenderly cradled in freefall."
The aid worker had travelled to Syria to help provide aid to refugees and those suffering in the ongoing civil war. Before that she also worked for humanitarian initiatives in India, Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Mueller said in a 2013 interview with the Prescott Daily Courier, a newspaper from her hometown of Prescott, Arizona:
"I find God in the suffering eyes reflected in mine, if this is how you are revealed to me, this is how I will forever seek you."
Fox News revealed further details about Mueller's capture in a report on Wednesday, and noted that she had spent several months being transferring between holding cells — and was held both at a children's hospital in Aleppo, and the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa.
Mueller became the fourth U.S. citizen to die at the hands of ISIS, following fellow aid worker Peter Kassig and journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff in 2014.
Obama vowed to bring those responsible for Mueller's death to justice.
"Kayla represents what is best about America, and expressed her deep pride in the freedoms that we Americans enjoy, and that so many others strive for around the world," he added in a White House statement. "In how she lived her life, she epitomized all that is good in our world."
Mueller's family said that they are proud of her work, and noted that she lived with a purpose.
The family added: "We remain heartbroken, also, for the families of the other captives who did not make it home safely and who remain in our thoughts and prayers. We pray for a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Syria."
Mueller, 26, had a long history of volunteering to help women and children, having worked for aid groups in Arizona before setting out for other countries. She spent her life moving quickly — earning a college degree in five semesters, helping at hometown AIDS clinics and embracing overseas struggles between hope and hopelessness. She saw the need for humanitarian aid in the mountains of Tibet, in tiny Palestinian villages and, finally, in Syria, where she is believed to have died after being taken hostage in August 2013.
After attending Northern Arizona University, she worked with aid groups in northern India, Israel and the Palestinian territories. She returned to Arizona in 2011, where she worked at an HIV/AIDS clinic and volunteered at a women's shelter. Late that year, she moved to southeastern France and worked as an au pair while learning French in preparation for a planned move to Africa.
But the plight of families fleeing the violence in war-torn Syria drew her to Turkey in December 2012. She worked with the aid groups Support to Life and the Danish Refugee Council, assisting women and children who crossed into Turkey as refugees.
She also ventured into Syria to help families separated by the fighting. Her trips into the country took her to Aleppo, where she was eventually kidnapped.
She was abducted as she left a hospital operated by Doctors Without Borders and was being held in Raqqa, a militant stronghold in northeastern Syria.
The family statement included letters Mueller wrote to relatives, including one on her father's birthday in 2011.
"Some people find God in church. Some people find God in nature. Some people find God in love," she wrote. "I find God in suffering. I've known for some time what my life's work is, using my hands as tools to relieve suffering."
In correspondence to her family, which she slipped to other detainees who were being freed, Mueller was contrite and seemed to be trying to assuage her family's worry. She told them she was being treated well and was not in harm's way.
She said in the letter that she was willing to wait for her freedom if it meant that her family would be absolved of the burden of negotiations. "I DO NOT want the negotiations for my release to be your duty, if there is any other option take it, even if it takes more time," she wrote. "This should never have become your burden."
Her family described her as relentlessly optimistic. Even while held hostage, Mueller said she found reasons to be grateful.
"By God and by your prayers I have felt tenderly cradled in freefall. I have been shown in darkness, light (and) have learned that even in prison, one can be free," she wrote. "I am grateful. I have come to see that there is good in every situation, sometimes we just have to look for it."
She closed her letter with a song she wrote while captive, once again making a plea for hope against hopelessness.
"The part of me that pains the most also gets me out of bed, (without) your hope there would be nothing left."