Islamic State Claims Arizona Aid Worker Killed in Syria Airstrike

The Islamic State released a statement today claiming that an Arizona aid worker the terror group was holding hostage in Syria has been killed in a Jordanian airstrike.

ISIS reported that Kayla Mueller, 26, was buried in the rubble of a building in Syria's ar-Raqqah governorate. Air assaults on the area, part of the Jordanian military's efforts to avenge the gruesome death of one of its pilots in January, lasted more than an hour.

The intelligence group SITE translated the report, which was broadcast in Arabic. State Department Press Officer Pooja Jhunijhunwala, said the government is "obviously deeply concerned by these reports." However, officials had yet to see evidence to corroborate the terror group's statement.

Jordan Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh accused ISIS of pulling a public-relations stunt, calling the report that Jordan bombs had killed Mueller "an old and sick trick used by terrorists and despots for decades.

"So they behead innocent #US #UK & Japan hostages & BURN a brave #jordan pilot ALIVE & now a hostage is killed by an airstrike? Sure! Sick!" Judeh wrote, referencing previous atrocities apparently committed and filmed by ISIS fighters.

Mueller, from Prescott, was kidnapped in Aleppo, Syria on August 4, 2013 after leaving a Doctors Without Borders hospital. She had been working with the international humanitarian aid agency Support to Life. She is the last remaining American hostage known to be in ISIS custody. The terror group has beheaded three others, all men, and broadcast their deaths on YouTube.

Just four months before her abduction, Mueller told the Prescott Daily Courier she felt drawn to help after learning about the suffering caused by the Syrian civil war. More than 200,000 people have died in the four-year conflict, including 63,074 civilians and 10,377 children, according to the monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

As part of her work, Mueller helped to reunite families who had been separated during air strikes, the Courier reported. She also helped children living in refugee camps using art therapy and other psychosocial interventions.

When Syrians asked her why the world hadn't come to their aid, she told the paper, "All I can do is cry with them, because I don't know."

"For as long as I live, I will not let this suffering be normal," she said. "It is 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."

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Elizabeth Stuart
Contact: Elizabeth Stuart