The Islamic State’s top leader repeatedly sexually assaulted Arizona aid worker Kayla Mueller during the 18 months she spent in the terrorist group’s custody before her death in February, according to a news report.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, an Iraqi, personally delivered the 26-year-old Prescott native to the home of Abu Sayyaf, who managed ISIS’ oil and gas operations, in al-Omar, Syria, counter-terrorism officials told ABC News. He regularly visited and raped Mueller.
Mueller’s parents confirmed that she was “the property of al-Baghdadi.”
U.S. special operations forces killed Abu Sayaff in May. His wife, Umm Sayaff, was captured, interrogated, and then turned over to the Iraqi Kurdish courts.
Although federal officials have said Umm Sayaff was “complicit” in Mueller’s abuse, the Justice Department has decided not to extradite her and prosecute her in the United States.
U.S. Senator John McCain said he was “deeply concerned,” about the decision in a letter posted Thursday to Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
“I would also like to know what commitments, if any, the Kurdistan Regional Government or the Government of Iraq have provided to ensure that Umm Sayyaf is held responsible for her actions,” he wrote.
Previously, little was known about Mueller’s time in captivity.
In letters smuggled home to her parents by freed hostages, the peace activist put on a brave face.
“I am OK, healthy, remaining strong and being treated kindly,” she wrote in one letter. “Do not worry … I love you all.”
If she “suffered,” she told them in a second, “it is only in knowing how much suffering I have put you all through.”
“I know you would want me to remain strong,” she wrote. “That is exactly what I am doing. Do not fear for me, continue to pray as will I, and by God’s will we will be together soon.”
Mueller was kidnapped while on a day-trip to a Doctors Without Border's Hospital in Aleppo, Syria, in August of 2013. She was working with the international aid agency Support to Life in southern Turkey, assisting refugees from the Syrian civil war.
ISIS officials reported her dead in February after a Jordanian airstrike on the compound where she was being held. The State Department confirmed her death, but was unable to discern the cause.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
During her short life, Mueller worked with more than a dozen different nonprofits, including Amnesty International, America's Promise, the African Refugees Development Center, and Big Brothers Big Sisters for America.