WASHINGTON, February 12, 2015 — The internet is buzzing with condemnations of killed Islamic State hostage Kayla Mueller. Mueller, a 26-year-old American was working in the Middle East with Hayata Destek (Support to Life) when she was abducted by the Islamic State. Mueller was in Aleppo, Syria at the time, attempting to reunite families torn apart by the ongoing civil war in that country.
Mueller was abducted in June, 2013, as she was leaving a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders in Aleppo and held captive until her death, which IS confirmed this month.
Mueller was believed to be held in the Islamic State’s Syrian stronghold of Raqqah when American Delta Force Commandos attempted to rescue her, along with American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, both of whom where brutally murdered by IS.
IS claims that Mueller was killed during a Jordanian bombing run are being discredited by the Pentagon. Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby has confirmed that the building where IS says it was holding Mueller was a weapons storage facility, and it is unlikely she was in that building.
“We do not know the circumstances surrounding her death … U.S. intelligence had no evidence that there were any civilians at the location of this weapons storage facility that was struck by Jordanian F-16s.”
Joel Pollack, an editor at Breitbart, ignited a firestorm of hate against Mueller when he tweeted:
Sad that Kayla Mueller was anti-Israel activist. If she understood both sides she might have avoided idealizing the enemy that killed her
— Joel Pollak (@joelpollak) February 11, 2015
In his article “Mueller Appears to Have Been Misled, Tragically, About Islamic ‘Resistance,’” Pollack refers to Mueller’s involvement with the International Solidarity Movement, a pro-Palestinian group. He writes:
“The ISM’s clear intent was to use Mueller’s death to political advantage, and it recounted Mueller’s work alongside activists in the West Bank against what she had called Israeli ‘oppression.’ She protested the Israeli security barrier, for instance–a barrier that has saved countless lives from terror.
“The ISM reprinted some of Mueller’s writings. In one passage — chilling, given her later fate — she wrote: ‘… resistance is nestled in the cracks in the wall, resistance flows from the minaret 5 times a day and resistance sits quietly in jail knowing its time will come again…'”
That Mueller may have offered aid to Palestinian civilians — walking children to school, tending wounds in the hospital — is not relevant to her death, only to her life.
Mueller’s actions in the West Bank have nothing to do with her captivity by IS, where she was not given the freedom to move about, or return to her home.
There are unconfirmed reports she was forced into marriage with an IS soldier.
Mueller’s young life is a history of aiding others. She worked with groups in her home state of Arizona, where she volunteered at an HIV/AIDS clinic and with women’s shelters. She learned French in order to travel to Africa and work on behalf of the people of Darfur. She traveled to India, Turkey and the Palestinian territories.
She worked with groups like Support to Live and the Danish Refugee Council, assisting the women and children making the harsh and life-threatening crossing into Turkey.
She did this not as a political envoy, but as a human attempting to offer some solace to her fellow humans.
Mueller may have been an idealist who did not understand the depth of the conflict between Israel and Palestine, or who like many young people did not believe the brutality of the radical Islamists. She may knowingly have sided with people that others consider purely evil, or she may have been simply a young woman who saw suffering that needed to be addressed. We will never know.
Mother Theresa gave aid where aid was needed. Mueller, like so many others, may have been walking in her footsteps, but she was following her own conscience.
Whatever Mueller was doing regarding Palestinians, whether she sided with one people over another, whether she was working where she saw the need for aid to be the greatest, does not take away the fact that she was kidnapped in Syria and held against her will.
It does not change the fact that IS terrorists demanded $7million dollars for her safe return and that she eventually lost her life.