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White House Confirms Death of American IS Hostage

by VOA News February 10, 2015

The White House confirmed Tuesday, the death of American Kayla Jean Mueller, an aid worker who was held hostage by Islamic State militants.

'On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I convey our deepest condolences to Kayla's family,' the statement said, adding that U.S. will bring those responsible to justice.

'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,' the statement said.

'There are no words to express to Kayla's parents, Marsha and Carl, how sorry we are for their crushing loss, just how much so many wished for and worked to try and secure a better outcome,' U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement, blaming IS for her death.

'ISIL, [Islamic State] 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,' the statement said.

Claims surfaced online late last week that a Jordanian airstrike hit a building where Mueller, 26, was believed to be held in the Syrian city of Raqqa. Jordanian, U.S. and other officials raised questions about the claim, and the circumstances around her death remain unknown.

National Security Council spokesperson Bernadette Meehan said Mueller's family received a private message from Islamic State captors over the weekend containing 'additional information'.

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

White House Spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters U.S. intelligence officials 'did not have a specific assessment about cause of death' after reviewing that information.

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

'We are heartbroken to share that we've received confirmation that Kayla Jean Mueller, has lost her life,' Carl and Marsha Mueller said in a statement. '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.'

In the letter, Kayla Mueller wrote that she was being treated with the 'utmost respect [and] kindness' at a 'safe location, completely unharmed [and] healthy.'

'If you could say I have "suffered" at all throughout this whole experience it is only in knowing how much suffering I have put you all through,' Mueller wrote on a notebook page. 'I have surrendered myself to our Creator.'

'None of us could have known it would be this long, but know I am also fighting from my side in the ways I am able. I have a lot of fight left inside of me. I am not breaking down (and) I will not give in no matter how long it takes,' she added.

U.S. Senator John McCain, who represents Mueller's home state of Arizona, said Tuesday that 'Kayla's remarkable legacy of service will never be forgotten, even by so many who never had the honor of meeting her.'

Aru Pande contributed to this report from the White House, Jeff Seldin contributed to this report from Washington. Some material for this report was provided by Reuters.

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