Zeinat, 16 years old, who had the opportunity to escape captivity from ISIS leader al-Baghdadi, spoke of the unspoken harrowing ordeal U.S. hostage Kayla Mueller endured. The survivor said they formed a bond more than sisters’ do. She had been a witness to how Mueller was raped multiple times and how the ISIS leader pulled out her nails in the most appalling attempt to convert her to Islam.
In an exclusive interview with CNN, Zeinat said that al-Baghdadi had also beaten her and treated her as one of his sex slaves. Mueller, on the other hand, was treated as a wife. The American aid worker was never shared to other men and was gifted the most expensive watch only given to al-Baghdadi’s other wives.
Zeinat said that she became close to Mueller like a sister. They first met each other in a jail in Raqqa. “The first time I entered the room, I saw Kayla. I thought she was Yazidi, so I spoke in Kurdish to her. She told me, ‘I don’t understand,’ so I spoke to her in Arabic. … I told her I am a Yazidi girl from Sinjar and I was captured by Daesh (ISIS). After that we stayed together and became like sisters.”
One day, al-Baghdadi transferred Zeinat to a house which belongs to a certain Abu Sayyaf. When Mueller joined them, Zeinat said she confided to them that she was raped by al-Baghdadi. “When Kayla came back to us (after being taken to see al-Baghdadi), we asked her, ‘Why are you crying?’ And Kayla told us al-Baghdadi said: ‘I am going to marry you by force and you are going to be my wife. If you refuse, I will kill you.’” Zeinat told CNN.
“Al-Baghdadi married her … she was his wife. He did not allow his friend Abu Sayyaf to see her face. Always she had to wear the niqab,” Zeinat told more. Mueller had even received an expensive watch from the ISIS leader. “It was a normal watch, but it was so expensive. … He also gifted his other wives the same kind of watch,” she said.
However, Zeinat had to bid Mueller goodbye when she decided to escape but Mueller decided otherwise. Zeinat said unlike Mueller, she was determined to escape whatever way she can. “I wanted to escape. I told Kayla to escape with me, but Kayla refused. She told me about the American journalist who was beheaded, and she said, ‘If I escape, they will behead me.'”
In a separate interview with Daily Mail, Zeinat recalled one of Mueller’s story. “She was forced to convert to Islam” by pulling her nails out, she said.
She was so sad when she learned about Muller’s death. She, however, did not believe reports that she was killed during an airstrike.
Now free from the ISIS, Zeinat said she would want to speak with Mueller’s parents. “I would tell her parents the whole story about Kayla. She was always saying that if she gets released she will take me to her home to meet them. I would tell them that she was such as close friend to me – more than a sister. I loved Kayla.”