American hostage Mueller's death confirmed by Obama, family

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Kayla Jean Mueller -- ISIS Hostage, Kayla Mueller
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American hostage Mueller's death confirmed by Obama, family
Courtesy: Mueller Family
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#Obama confirms death of American #ISIS #hostage Kayla Mueller; Private Message from ISIS sent to Parents of ISIS Hostage, Kayla Mueller, Confirms Her Death http://read.bi/16QUgjt
Statement from the White House on the death of Kayla Mueller
Parents of #ISIS hostage Kayla Mueller urge her captors to contact them. http://t.co/oYOzFBF62r http://t.co/DTkx9od38u
The Mueller family have released new pictures of Kayla. http://t.co/vk7warF4OQ
The parents of American Islamic State (ISIS) hostage Kayla Mueller, who the extremist group claims was killed Friday by a Jordanian airstrike on the Syrian city of Raqqa, are hopeful that their daughter is still alive. Carl and Marsha Mueller said in a statement on Friday, "This news leaves us concerned, yet, we are still hopeful that Kayla is alive." Mueller's parents urged ISIS to contact them privately, and to treat their daughter as a guest.
.@ejmontini: For Kayla Mueller's family, waiting is not a game http://t.co/TvtOCrgFJv http://t.co/GEaSQNdKKv
Prescott stricken by loss, uncertainty of Kayla Mueller's fate. via @RebekahLSanders http://t.co/bfrIZc3aE4 #12news http://t.co/XdGdZjHznh
Family, others kept Kayla Mueller's capture a secret to protect her, @KarenBrown3TV reports http://t.co/bHlvjWYAqw http://t.co/noUUfRUS6m
Family of hostage Kayla Mueller breaks silence after #IslamicState claims: http://t.co/Dv5w7uOFwW | http://t.co/iSNja0KShX
JUST IN: ISIS sent Muellers an e-mail saying their daughter was dead and included a photo, David Martin reports; cause of death inconclusive
A local Palestinian man holds up a poster of slain ISIS hostage Kayla Mueller who worked in Palestine and was an activist with the International Solidarity Movement- a movement dedicated to supporting a free Palestinian state. In the Palestinian West Bank village of Bilin, west of Ramallah, the 10th anniversary of the popular resistance movement against the Israeli occupation was held on Friday afternoon. Israeli soldiers invaded the village on Friday, stopping protesters from marching into the olive orchards. Israeli soldiers assaulted Palestinians and international activists, beating them, spraying them with a chemical orange agent, as well as using hundreds of tear gas canisters. Live ammunition rounds were also fired at protesters, including sound bombs thrown at the feet of journalists. Journalists who were filming the protests were assaulted by Israeli soldiers as well. The village gained global notoriety when a decade ago locals as well as international activists would gather and organize weekly protests on Fridays, marching towards olive orchards and lands that were confiscated by the Israeli government to build illegal settlements and the separation barrier in the West Bank. The village gained even more popularity after one of its locals, Emad Burnat, filmed the Oscar-nominated film, Five Broken Cameras in which he showed the struggle of the Palestinian village against Israeli aggression. Scores of people, both Palestinian and international have been injured during weekly protests, the most infamous of whom was Basem Au Rahma who was killed in 2009 when a tear gas canister struck him in the chest. Two years later, in 2011, Jawaher Abu Rahma also died during a weekly protest after being hit with a tear gas canister. (Photo by Anna Ferensowicz/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Palestinian protesters hold placard to protest against 'terrorism' on February 13, 2015 before a demonstration against Jewish settlements in the West Bank village of Bilin, west of Ramallah. The poster shows a picture of US aid worker Kayla Mueller, who died as a hostage of Islamic State (IS) group jihadists. (Photo credit ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/Getty Images)
Palestinian protesters hold placard to protest against 'terrorism' on February 13, 2015 before a demonstration against Jewish settlements in the West Bank village of Bilin, west of Ramallah. The posters show pictures of US aid worker Kayla Mueller, who died as a hostage of Islamic State (IS) group jihadists. (Photo credit ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/Getty Images)
Feb. 14, 2015 - Bilin, West Bank, Palestinian Territory - A Palestinian girl holds the picture of Islamic State captive Kayla Mueller during a demonstration against Jewish settlements in the West Bank village of Bilin, near Ramallah February 13, 2015 (Credit Image: © Shadi Hatem/APA Images/ZUMA Wire via Alamy)
Laura Spaeth looks at a memorial honoring American hostage Kayla Mueller on the corner of courthouse plaza in Prescott, Ariz., Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015. Islamic State group reported Friday that Muller, whose 18-month captivity had largely been kept secret in an effort to save her, had died in a recent Jordanian airstrike targeting the militants. On Tuesday her parents and U.S. officials confirmed she was dead, although officials said they could not confirm how she died. (AP Photo/Felicia Fonseca)
A small memorial honoring American hostage Kayla Mueller is on display at a corner of courthouse plaza in Prescott, Ariz.,Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015. Islamic State group reported Friday that Muller, whose 18-month captivity had largely been kept secret in an effort to save her, had died in a recent Jordanian airstrike targeting the militants. On Tuesday her parents and U.S. officials confirmed she was dead, although officials said they could not confirm how she died. (AP Photo/Felicia Fonseca)
An unidentified woman kneels near a makeshift memorial for Kayla Mueller, Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015, in Prescott, Ariz. Mueller, a 26-year-old American woman held by Islamic State militants, was confirmed dead, her parents and the Obama administration said Tuesday. (AP Photo/Brian Skoloff)
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(Reuters) -- President Barack Obama and the family of U.S. aid worker Kayla Mueller confirmed on Tuesday that the last-known American hostage held by Islamic State militants had died, with Obama promising to "find and bring to justice the terrorists who are responsible."

U.S. officials said the family received an email and photograph over the weekend from her captors that confirmed her death but said the circumstances in which she died remained unclear.

Mueller, 26, was captured in August 2013 while leaving a hospital in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo. She previously had been working in Turkey providing humanitarian assistance to refugees from Syria's bloody civil war.

Islamic State said on Friday that Mueller was killed when Jordanian fighter jets bombed a building where she was being held outside Raqqa, a stronghold of the Islamist militant group.

Jordan and U.S. officials have expressed doubt about the account of her death offered by Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot that controls wide areas of Syria and Iraq.

Mueller's family said in a statement on Tuesday that they were "heartbroken" to learn of her death and released a copy of a letter she had written in 2014 while in captivity.

"Over the weekend, the family received a private message from Kayla's ISIL captors containing additional information," White House National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said, using an acronym for Islamic State.

"Once this information was authenticated by the intelligence community, they concluded that Kayla was deceased," Meehan said.

Mueller was Islamic State's only American woman hostage known to have died. The group has beheaded three other Americans, two Britons and two Japanese hostages - most of them aid workers or journalists - in recent months.

"No matter how long it takes, the United States will find and bring to justice the terrorists who are responsible for Kayla's captivity and death," Obama, who last year ordered American air strikes targeting Islamic State positions, said in a statement released by the White House.

"ISIL is a hateful and abhorrent terrorist group whose actions stand in stark contrast to the spirit of people like Kayla," Obama added.

'UNCONSCIONABLE EVIL'

Obama offered his condolences to Mueller's parents Marsha and Carl, and her brother Eric, saying "Kayla represents what is best about America."

"Kayla's compassion and dedication to assisting those in need shows us that even amongst unconscionable evil, the essential decency of humanity can live on," Obama said.

U.S. officials said they had no evidence to support Islamic State claims that she was killed in a Jordanian air strike, adding the details surrounding her death remained unclear. Two U.S. government sources said that it appears most likely that she was killed in some kind of combat situation in which her captors were unable to keep her safe.

"It's unclear from the intelligence picture how she died," said one U.S. official, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Even after Islamic State Friday announced her death on Friday, the family had expressed hope that she was still alive.

"Kayla was a compassionate and devoted humanitarian. She dedicated the whole of her young life to helping those in need of freedom, justice and peace," they wrote in their statement on Tuesday.

The family also released a handwritten letter they said she wrote to them in the spring of 2014 while in captivity. In it, she states that she was "in a safe location, completely unharmed + healthy" and had been treated with "the utmost respect + kindness."

"I have been shown in darkness, light + have learned that even in prison, one can be free," the letter states.

"I am not breaking down + I will not give in no matter how long it takes," the letter states.

Mueller, a 2009 Northern Arizona University graduate, had worked for a Turkish aid organization on the Syrian border and previously volunteered for schools and aid organizations abroad including in the West Bank, Israel and India.

Her family's statement quoted from a letter they said she sent to her father on his birthday in 2011.

"I will always seek God. Some people find God in church. Some people find God in nature. Some people find God in love; I find God in suffering. I've known for some time what my life's work is, using my hands as tools to relieve suffering," the 2011 letter stated.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that "ISIL, and ISIL alone, is the reason Kayla is gone."

"Like our friends in Jordan, our resolve is unshaken to defeat this vile and unspeakably ugly insult to the civilized world and to defeat terrorists whose actions - killing women, killing children, burning people alive - are an insult to the religion they falsely claim to represent," Kerry said.

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