The White House confirmed Tuesday that Islamic State (ISIS) hostage Kayla Mueller was killed, but it is not known if she died in an aerial attack on the ISIS, as the terrorists claim, or at the hands of one of its executioners.
“It is with profound sadness that we have learned of the death of Kayla Jean Mueller,” said President Barack Obama in a statement. “On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I convey our deepest condolences to Kayla’s family – her parents, Marsha and Carl, and her brother Eric and his family – and all of those who loved Kayla dearly.”
“Over the weekend, the family received a private message from Kayla’s ISIL captors containing additional information,” added Bernadette Meehan, a White House spokesman.
Mueller’s parents and brother said in a statement from the family:
We are heartbroken to share that we’ve received confirmation that Kayla Jean Mueller, has lost her life,” Mueller’s parents and brother Eric, said in a family statement. “Kayla was a compassionate and devoted humanitarian. She dedicated the whole of her young life to helping those in need of freedom, justice, and peace.
The Islamic State claimed last Friday that she was killed in a Jordanian air strike, but national security officials said they had no evidence to confirm the claim.
Following private messages sent by ISIS to Mueller’s family. American intelligence officials said there was enough evidence to conclude that she is dead.
The White House added, “ISIL is a hateful and abhorrent terrorist group whose actions stand in stark contrast to the spirit of people like Kayla.
“On this day, we take comfort in the fact that the future belongs not to those who destroy, but rather to the irrepressible force of human goodness that Kayla Mueller shall forever represent.”
ISIS last year reportedly posted a video of Mueller wearing a hijab and pleading for her life.
Mueller was a humanitarian aid worker and was captured in Syria in August 2013.
The Arizona native is the fourth American to have died while in the hands of the ISIS, which beheaded James Foley, Steven Sotloff and Abdul-Rahman Kassig.
Seven years ago, Mueller told her hometown newspaper, “I love cultures and language and learning about people’s cultures.”