Kayla Mueller, 26, an American humanitarian worker from Prescott, Ariz.
Mueller Family—Reuters
By Tessa Berenson
February 10, 2015

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have paid tribute to Kayla Mueller, the young aid worker whose death while being held captive by the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) was confirmed Tuesday.

In an interview with Buzzfeed, Obama said Mueller, 26, “was an outstanding young woman and a great spirit — and I think that spirit will live on. The more people learn about her, the more they appreciate what she stood for — and how it stands in contrast with the barbaric organization that held her captive.”

Meanwhile, Biden tweeted:

The White House confirmed Mueller’s death Tuesday morning. She had been held hostage by ISIS in Syria since August 2013, but her identity was only made public in recent days after ISIS claimed she had been killed in Jordanian airstrikes. Her cause of death has not been verified.

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), whose district includes the Mueller family’s home, said there had been multiple attempts to rescue Mueller, including one in which a rescuer pretended to be her husband. Unfortunately, Mueller wasn’t aware of the plan and denied having a husband when her captors confronted her.

Arizona Senator John McCain spoke on the Senate floor Tuesday, choking up as he spoke of Mueller and her family. “Kayla devoted her young life to helping people in need around the world… and bringing light to some of the most darkest and desperate places on earth,” he said. “She will never be forgotten.”

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