Arizona Lawmakers React to Death of Kayla Mueller

Last known American ISIS hostage killed, family and White House confirm

Kayla Mueller
Kayla Mueller / AP
February 10, 2015

The White House and the family of Kayla Mueller, an American aide worker held hostage by the Islamic State (IS), confirmed on Tuesday that Mueller died, but did not release any details on how or when she was killed.

"It is with profound sadness that we have learned of the death of Kayla Jean Mueller. 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," President Obama said in a statement.

IS (also known as ISIS or ISIL) claimed Mueller died in Jordanian airstrikes last week, but they did not release videos or photos to solidify those claims. Jordanian and U.S. officials were skeptical of the claims and have still not confirmed how Mueller died.

Mueller was the last known American hostage held by the extremist group.

The 26-year old, Arizona native dedicated her life to volunteering at home and abroad. She was based in Turkey and working with Syrian refugees when she was kidnapped leaving an Aleppo hospital in 2013.

Lawmakers from her home state say her courage and compassion will never be forgotten, and the young woman from Arizona has shown the world the "best in human kind."

"The world has learned a great deal about Kayla in these past few days," said Rep. Paul Gosar (R., Ariz.), "and the consensus is that she represents all that is best in human kind ... Kayla’s was a beautiful life, and her works are a beacon of light in a world that is too often filled with darkness."

Gosar, who represents the district where Mueller and her family live, said he received countless calls "with thoughts of love and prayer for Kayla’s safe return."

"But this nation never relents," Gosar continued, "and it never gives up. The American people must be resolved now to bring justice to Kayla’s captors. We must put an end to this monstrous violence. We must endeavor to remain brave and strong in the face of those who wish to terrify, just as Kayla did."

Roughly three months before her kidnapping, Mueller spoke to the Prescott Kiwanis Club about her work in the war-torn nation and the Syrian refugees she encountered.

After telling the story of one refugee family she helped reunite, Mueller said their story was common.

"This is the reality for Syrians two and a half years on," she explained. "When Syrians hear I'm an American, they ask, 'Where is the world?' All I can do is cry with them, because I don't know."

Mueller was there, and remained determined to help the millions of Syrian refugees while refusing to allow their agony to become "something we just accept."

"For as long as I live," Mueller said, "I will not let this suffering be normal … It's important to stop and realize what we have, why we have it and how privileged we are. And from that place, start caring and get a lot done."

Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) offered his condolences to the family, calling Mueller’s death heartbreaking.

"Kayla devoted her young life to helping people in need around the world, to healing the sick and bringing light to some of the darkest and most desperate places on Earth," he said.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R., Ariz.) called for congressional action against IS.

"The death of Kayla Mueller—a Prescott native—can be laid squarely at the feet of ISIL," Flake said. "The best thing Congress can do now is authorize the mission against ISIL to let our allies and our adversaries know that we are united in our resolve."

Published under: Islamic State , Syria