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US named Baghdadi operation after IS victim Kayla Mueller

Mueller was held in captivity and raped by Baghdadi [Getty]

Date of publication: 29 October, 2019

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Held by a senior IS leader, US aid worker Kayla Mueller was tortured and repeatedly raped by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
The parents of Kayla Mueller, a US aid worker kidnapped by the Islamic State group, said they were "deeply touched" and "grateful" after US special forces raided the compound of IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The operation against Baghdadi was named after Mueller, Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, later revealed.

Mueller was kidnapped by IS militants in 2013 and later transferred into the custody of a leader in the extremist group. 

Living alongside Yazidi women hostages, Mueller was tortured and raped by Baghdadi.

"I just want to say how grateful we are to this administration, to the military, and to the special forces that went in," Marsha Mueller said according to CNN. "My hope is that this will help us get answers to what really happened to Kayla and get her home."

The Muellers received visual confirmation of their daughter's death in February 2015. She was killed in a Jordanian airstrike against IS, the extremist group said.

However, the circumstances around Mueller's captivity and death are still unclear.

Her parents, though, would like the public to remember their daughter as someone with a "tender heart".

"Kayla always had a heart to help people. All people," her mother said. "It didn't matter if they didn't think exactly like you or if they thought differently. She had a gift of meeting people where they were and trying to learn from them so she could better understand their side."

Mueller's parents also thanked US President Donald Trump for mentioning their daughter by name in the Sunday press conference during which he confirmed the raid on Baghdadi's compound.

"President Trump mentioned her today in his statement and he mentioned that he deserved what he got for what he did to Kayla," Carl Mueller told ABC News. "She's not forgotten, and that's important."

Trump also mentioned fellow Western captives in his Sunday statement, including journalist James Foley and aid worker Abdulrahman Kassig, both killed by the extremist group.

In an interview on Sunday, the family revealed that they had secretly met with Umm Sayyaf, the wife of Mueller's captor who was later captured by US special forces.

"We learned from women that were ransomed out by their governments that she said she was held in many cold, dark places, she was raped by al-Baghdadi, we know that to be a fact," Carl Mueller said. "She was murdered by him or someone in his organization. That's what we're pursuing and that's what we hope that President Trump will help us with."

Umm Sayyaf is currently held in Iraqi captivity and has been charged with holding Mueller captive and contributing to her death.

Abu Sayyaf, Mueller's captor who enabled Baghdadi to repeatedly rape her, was killed in a 2015 US raid.

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