After ISIS leader’s death, a time to remember Kayla Mueller


By Mark Ellis –

Kayla Mueller

After military dogs cornered the leader of ISIS in an underground tunnel, the notorious mastermind of the terrorist group’s atrocities detonated a suicide vest, blowing himself and his three children to an ignominious death, offering finality and a measure of justice to the thousands he was responsible for killing, including a young aid American aid worker named Kayla Mueller.

Based on CIA intelligence, a U.S. Delta Force team flew into the rebel-held Idlib province of Syria near Turkey’s border with the intention of capturing or killing the terrorist leader on October 26th.

The military operation was named after Kayla Mueller, a devoted Christian from Prescott, Arizona, who had been assisting Syrian refugees in southern Turkey when she was abducted by ISIS a few days before her 25th birthday.

On August 3, 2013, Kayla made the tragic mistake of traveling across the border from Turkey to the Syrian city of Aleppo with her Syrian boyfriend, Omar Alkhani, a contractor hired to install satellite Internet at a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Aleppo.

Kayla with her boyfriend

“Kayla was not expected and no one at the hospital had any indication she was coming,” Doctors Without Borders specified later. “If they had, they would have stated in no uncertain terms that she should not come, or cancelled the visit altogether. This was because Aleppo was well known to be a very dangerous place, a city at war, where the risk level for westerners, and Americans in particular, was very high.”

The security policy of Doctors Without Borders forbade people from certain countries – especially the U.S. — from working at or visiting the hospital.

The following day, Doctors Without Borders’ staff hired a car and driver to take Kayla and her boyfriend to a bus station so that they could travel back to Turkey.

They set out on a road that had been used many times by Doctors Without Borders–even earlier in the day.

Tragically, militants along the route affiliated with ISIS ambushed Kayla, her boyfriend, and a Doctors Without Borders staff member accompanying them. Everyone in the car was subsequently freed, except for the young American.

Over many months, Kayla’s family and the U.S. military made great efforts to locate and rescue her from captivity.

Kayla’s family

According to Fox News, the Obama White House knew in May 2014 of the location of Kayla, American journalist James Foley, and other American hostages, but waited seven weeks to obtain further intelligence before agreeing to attempt a rescue.

After the delay, U.S. Special Forces raided an abandoned oil refinery searching for Kayla and the others. The refinery was empty, but the military found evidence the hostages had been there, including a fragment of hair believed to be Kayla’s. Sadly, the weeks-long wait allowed the hostages to be relocated.

Later, accounts emerged of Kayla’s treatment inside the oil refinery. “They would scream at her, and they would, you know, blame her for everything that America has done in the world,” Frida Saide, 35, from Sweden, one of three women from Doctors Without Borders who shared a cell with Mueller at the oil refinery, told ABC News.

“They picked her apart,” said Patricia Chavez, one of the other Doctors Without Borders aid workers held with Mueller.

Kayla and her mother, Marsha

After Kayla left the hideout in the refinery, the New York Times reported that Mueller had been forced into marriage to the leader of ISIS, who essentially used her as a sex slave, raping her repeatedly.

“American hostage Kayla Mueller was tortured, verbally abused, forced into slave labor for ISIS commanders in Syria and raped by the group’s top leader, but her fellow hostages say she never surrendered hope, she selflessly put the welfare of fellow captives above her own and she even stood up to executioner “Jihadi John” to defend her Christian faith,” according to the ABC News special report “The Girl Left Behind.”

Four former hostages who shared cells with Kayla said she inspired them.

Her ISIS guards were overseen by the former British citizen, Mohammed Emwazi, who was nicknamed Jihadi John, because he carried out the beheadings and killings of 10 hostages.

One day Kayla was taken to a room where male hostages were being held, according to former ISIS hostage, Daniel Ottosen.

One of her captives said, “Oh, this is Kayla, and she has been held all by herself. And she is much stronger than you guys. And she’s much smarter. She converted to Islam.”

“No I didn’t!” she objected, according to ABC.

Ottosen verified the report is true and she refused to deny her faith.

During Kayla’s 18 horrifying months in captivity, “she was subjected to some form of torture, verbal abuse, prolonged isolation, sensory deprivation, stress positions, forced labor or sexual assault,” according to her fellow captives.

Saide, who shared a cell with Kayla, told ABC that Kayla had a surprisingly positive personality and “a strong faith that gave her a lot of strength. As a person, she was a very good friend. She was smart. She was fun to be with. She was very kind, extremely generous.”

“She was always considerate of others, even though she herself was in a very difficult situation,” Saide reported. “She was always concerned for other prisoners. She never stopped being concerned for the Syrian population living through just horrible things in this war and still are. She never stopped caring for others.”

The cell Saide shared with Kayla was described as 12-feet-by-12-feet, with brick walls, a blacked-out window, a single bulb hanging from the ceiling, and mattresses on the floor.

“It was cold, dirty. We didn’t have that much to eat,” Saide recalled. “They gave us black dresses and hijab, so to cover our heads and faces.”

Soon they learned a Russian captive was shot to death. “We realized that they were actually killers, that they would enjoy killing us,” Saide told ABC.

Once U.S. airstrikes expanded across Iraq and into Syria in the fall of 2014, ISIS stopped negotiating with Kayla’s parents.

At that point, “Kayla Mueller had been handed over to the oil and gas emir for ISIS, Abu Sayyaf, and his sadistic wife, Umm Sayyaf — Tunisians who kept the American and a half-dozen Yazidi girls as sex slaves for the ISIS “Caliph.”

One of the Yazidi girls enslaved alongside Kayla was a 13-year-old called Julia*. “Yazidi males were subjected to mass murder by ISIS in Iraq, and thousands of Yazidi girls were forced to be sex slaves,” according to ABC.

Julia revealed in a “20/20” interview how Kayla — who was frequently raped by the ISIS leader — passed up the opportunity to escape in order to increase the odds for the Yazidi teens, who were able to sneak out of their captor’s house late one night.

“We want to escape,” Julia told Kayla. “Please come with us,” she implored.

But Kayla shook her head. “No, because I’m American if I escape with you, they will do everything to find us again.”

“It is better for you to escape alone. I will stay here,” Kayla told her.

It was the ultimate expression of sacrificial love modeled by her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ: Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13)

All the girls, including Kayla, were beaten regularly — but Kayla also serviced the ISIS leader’s carnal appetites.

The ISIS kingpin “took her several times in the night for himself,” Julia told ABC, noting that Kayla would return later and try to not to cry, though at times she broke down.

The Yazidi girls escaped successfully and made their way to Irbil. Julia cooperated with U.S. military intelligence officers to locate and raid the Sayyaf house.

Proof of life photo submitted by ISIS to Kayla’s family

Sadly, Kayla was not there. In February 2015 ISIS said she was killed in a Jordanian airstrike in Syria. “The White House denied that an airstrike killed her but confirmed her death of unstated causes a few days after the ISIS claim,” according to ABC. It is not known whether Kayla was killed by an airstrike or by the hands of her tormenters, well known for their barbaric executions and atrocities.

When Kayla’s fellow hostages learned of her death, they were devastated.

Carl, left, and Marsha Mueller, center, hold candles at the memorial in honor of their daughter Kayla Mueller on Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015, in Prescott, Ariz. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Rob Schumacher)

Shortly after the news broke of her graduation to heaven, Kayla’s family received an e-mail from ISIS, with three photos of her dead body, bruised on the face and wearing a black hijab.

In the last letter from Kayla to her family delivered by her fellow hostages, she wrote:

If you could say I have “suffered” at all throughout this whole experience it is only in knowing how much suffering I have put you all through; I will never ask you to forgive me as I do not deserve forgiveness. I remember mom always telling me that … 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 [because] literally there was no else. 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. I am grateful. I have come to see that there is good in every situation[;] sometimes we just have to look for it. I pray each day that if nothing else, you have felt a certain closeness [and] surrender to God as well [and] have formed a bond of love [and] support amongst one another…

I have a lot of fight left inside of me. I am not breaking down. I will not give in no matter how long it takes. I wrote a song some months ago that says, “The part of me that pains the most also gets me out of bed, without your hope there would be nothing left…” aka The thought of your pain is the source of my own, simultaneously the thought of our reunion is the source of my strength. Please be patient, give your pain to God. I know you would want me to remain strong. That is exactly what I am doing. Do not fear for me, continue to pray as will I + by God’s will we will be together soon.

All my everything,



*name changed