The parents of Kayla Mueller, a humanitarian worker who was held captive, tortured and killed by ISIS, honored their daughter at the Republican National Convention with a moving testimonial that called on Americans to « stay strong like Kayla. »
Kayla Mueller, 26, was on a humanitarian mission in Turkey on Aug. 3, 2013, when ISIS kidnapped her after crossing the Syrian border to visit a hospital. In February 2015, U.S. officials confirmed that she had died while in ISIS custody, but her body was never recovered.
« Everywhere Kayla went, people smiled, » her mother, Marsha Mueller, said Thursday night during a recorded segment. « Kayla had a gift to be able to see the world through someone else’s eyes. »
Her father, Carl Mueller, recounted the conditions she faced while held hostage by ISIS — living in solitary confinement, tortured and raped by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS.
« For 18 months, she endured, » Carl Mueller said. « And we endured an agonizing back-and-forth between us, the Obama administration and ISIS. We put all our faith in the government. »
Carl Mueller charged that the Obama administration « hid behind policy so much that we felt hopeless when they kept us from negotiating to save Kayla’s life. » He said they have not heard from Democratic presidential nominee, and then vice president, Joe Biden.
Biden did memorialize Mueller after her death was announced in February 2015, writing on Twitter, « Deeply moved by the life of Kayla Mueller. Our nation is stronger than any enemy can understand. »
President Barack Obama told BuzzFeed in 2015 his administration « devoted enormous resources » to rescuing Mueller, some detailed by Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar in an interview with The Arizona Republic when she was pronounced dead.
When President Donald Trump announced the death of al-Baghdadi in October 2019, following a military raid in Syria, he mentioned Mueller by name, calling her a « beautiful young woman » who died while trying to « help people. »
Carl Mueller said they named the mission Operation Kayla Mueller, and the operators called themselves Task Force 814, after her birthday, Aug. 14.
« The Trump team gave us empathy we never received from the Obama administration, » Carl Mueller said. « The Obama administration said it was doing everything it could. The Trump administration actually is. »
« Let me just say this: Kayla should be here, » he continued. « If Donald Trump had been president when Kayla was captured, she would be here today. »
Marsha Mueller shared a letter from her daughter that another hostage smuggled out, part of which said, « I am not breaking down and I will not give in no matter how long it takes. »
« Kayla taught me so many things as her mom, » Marsha Mueller said. « She’s still teaching us. »
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