On Friday, the Islamic State announced that Kayla Mueller’s, a 26-year-old aid worker from Prescott, Ariz., had been killed in the falling rubble of a building in northern Syria that it said had been struck by bombs from a Jordanian warplane. Top Jordanian officials said the announcement was cynical propaganda.
But the group’s use of Ms. Mueller’s name for the first time prompted her family to throw a spotlight on a hostage ordeal that befell an eager and deeply idealistic young woman, who had ventured into one of the most dangerous parts of Syria — apparently without the backing of an aid organization.
Initially based in southern Turkey, where she had worked for at least two aid organizations assisting Syrian refugees, Ms. Mueller appears to have driven into the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on Aug. 3, 2013, alongside a man who has been alternatively described as her Syrian friend or colleague, and by others as either her boyfriend or her fiancé. He had been invited to travel to the city to help fix the Internet connection for a compound run by the Spanish chapter of Doctors Without Borders.
They caught a bus back to Turkey, but never made it, abducted on the road.
On July 12, 2014, the Islamic State announced that it would kill Ms. Mueller within 30 days unless the family provided a ransom of 5 million euros ($5.6 million), or exchanged her for Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani scientist educated in America who was convicted of trying to kill American soldiers and F.B.I. agents in Afghanistan in 2008, and is serving a sentence in a Texas jail.
That was shortly before the United States began airstrikes against the Islamic State in concert with European and Arab allies. Soon after, in August, the Islamic State posted the first of its decapitation videos, starting with the beheading of the American James Foley, and then in quick succession the fellow Americans Steven Sotloff and Peter Kassig.
After the Islamic State released a video showing the immolation of a captured Jordanian pilot, the Jordanians began their own extensive bombings of Islamic State targets in Syria. It was one of those attacks, the Islamic State said in its message Friday, that killed Ms. Mueller.
Experts on the Middle East said they believed Ms. Mueller was dead, since the Islamic State had no motivation to make such an assertion about a hostage if it were not true.
[The New York Times]