American hostage Kayla Mueller died on Tuesday, her family confirmed. The family said they received the news from her abductors.
According to National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan, the extremist group sent the Muellers private message on weekend. The message included a photo showing Kayla swathed with a burial cloth. The information was duly authenticated by officials complete with forensic examination from the intelligence community, CNN reported.
“We are heartbroken to share that we’ve received confirmation that Kayla Jean Mueller has lost her life,” Kayla’s family said in a statement obtained by CNN. The family described Kayla as compassionate and devoted humanitarian who dedicated her young life in helping people who needed freedom, justice and peace.
As confirmation of Kayla’s death was announced, details hinting that she might have been given to an ISIS commander emerged. It is plausible that Kayla was taken as a wife through forced marriage, according to intelligence officials who have spoken with ABC News.
“ISIS didn’t see her as a hostage or a bargaining chip,” unnamed officials told ABC News. The information cannot be verified for lack of ground-level intelligence coming from sources in Syria, ABC News said in its report. Officials only relied from information they can collect from satellites and drones to kept track of Kayla during the whole time she was with the ISIS, the sources said. However, the ISIS is known to sell off or put women and young girl captives in the company of its high ranking officials, head of the National Counter terrorism Center Matt Olsen said.
Kayla might have also hinted about being in the custody of a high-ranking ISIS commander. Kayla was able to send her family a letter in 2014 saying she was being held “in a safe location, completely unharmed and healthy.”
“I have been treated with the utmost respect and kindness,” Kayla wrote in a letter with complete text published by Fox News.
Kayla’s confirmation of death did not come with information as to how she was killed. ISIS claimed she was killed during one of the U.S. led airstrikes conducted by Jordan. However, this was immediately denied by officials. They said airstrikes launched by the coalition were carefully planned to avoid killing hostages.