US officials have announced that aid worker Kayla Mueller, seized in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo in August 2013 and held hostage by ISIL militants, was repeatedly raped by the group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Mueller’s parents were told by US government officials that their daughter had been raped by al-Baghdadi and tortured during her captivity, family spokeswoman Emily Lenzner told Reuters by telephone. Mueller was 26 at the time of her death and would have turned 27 on Friday (August 14).
“We can confirm that the Mueller family learned in June of Kayla’s treatment from the FBI,” Lenzner said.
US network ABC News first reported al-Baghdadi’s sexual abuse of Mueller, and US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the report. ABC News quoted Mueller’s parents as saying they were told by the US
government their daughter “was the property of al-Baghdadi.”
ISIL said in February that Mueller, from the US state of Arizona, was killed when Jordanian fighter jets bombed a building where she was being held. Jordanian and US officials have expressed doubt about ISIL’s account of her death following 18 months as a hostage.
Mueller went to Turkey in December 2012 to work for a Turkish organisation providing humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees .
Lenzner said Mueller’s parents were told at a meeting in Washington of Mueller’s abuse by al-Baghdadi and her torture while held captive. Lenzner was not clear about whether al-Baghdadi was responsible for torturing Mueller.
Mueller’s family declined to comment directly on Friday.
“The family is so exhausted at this point, they need some time,” Lenzner said.