Kayla Mueller’s parents have claimed there is a chance she may still be alive and that ISIS faked her death.
In an emotional interview with Today on Wednesday morning, Carl and Marsha Mueller said they believed their volunteer daughter – who was taken hostage by ISIS in 2013 and, it is believed, killed by them after 18 months in captivity – might actually not be dead.
They say the only apparent proof that Kayla was murdered is that ISIS claimed responsibility for killing her and three photographs of her purported corpse which they now say are dubious.
The couple from Arizona, say while their hope that she still may be alive is only a ‘one percent chance’, they will not be satisfied until they bring her remains home.
The pair’s remarks come days after President Trump announced that a special operations team had killed Kayla’s captor, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in a raid over the weekend.
The mission was named after her – something her parents said brought them to tears when the president called them to inform them about al-Baghdadi’s death.
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Carl and Marsha Mueller appeared on Today on Wednesday to share their belief that there is a ‘one percent chance’ their daughter Kayla may still be alive
Kayla was taken hostage in 2013 while working as an aid worker. She was raped in captivity by ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi who was killed over the weekend in a raid
Carl, who fought tears as he described how the ‘evil’ ISIS leader raped his kind-hearted daughter who had gone to serve as an aid worker at the peak of the Syrian civil war when she was taken hostage, explained why the pair had hope she was alive.
‘They [the government] never takes one piece of intel and acts on it. They have to have at least two, maybe three before it’s actionable. They never take intel from a terrorist group as factual.
‘The only thing they based Kayla’s death on is one, ISIS said she was dead… and two, he photos. We’ve had those photos looked at by people… they’re not so sure,’ he said.
He explained that he and his wife has since heard from Yazidi girls who have manages to escape ISIS captivity that often the terrorists staged those photos to make hostages’ native countries believe they were dead when they were not.
‘They would make the hostages do those death photos. We’d been warned about that,’ Carl said.
Marsha added that while there is a ’99 percent’ likelihood that Kayla is dead, they will not be entirely satisfied until they bring her body home and see it for themselves.
Carl swallowed tears as he described how his daughter would ‘go under the covers and cry’ after being raped by al-Baghdadi
In the ‘death photos’ , she said her daughter’s body was entirely covered and that only her face was showing. She had a gash on her cheek and appeared ‘lifeless’, Marsha said, but she still remained hopeful she may be alive because of her faith.
‘Ninety-nine percent of that, my hope, is that Kayla truly is with the Lord and Savior… he’s come through at such wonderful times for us when we were just losing hope but something always would happen.
‘We did get the three photos, but Kayla was completely covered. All you could see was her face. It’s horrific to look at them, she looks lifeless to me, but then we started getting these messages saying she wasn’t gone and don’t be surprised if ISIS did this.
‘The truth wasn’t always told to us. People thought I was crazy but until she’s home… we’ve got to find her. We’ve got to find truly what happened to her because we just do not know.’
Carl said he told President Trump about the ‘one percent chance’ that Kayla might be alive during an ’18-minute’ phone call after the al-Baghdadi mission.
‘We still have many questions. Of course after he cordially gave his condolences and told us what he knew, I said, “Mr. President, we have some questions,” and he said “what are your questions?”
‘I told him, and then there was a pause, and he said, “Do you have more?”
‘I said, “Yes, sir, I do and we continued to talk. I was able to tell him about our one percent chance that Kayla is still alive and why we feel that one percent is still there.
Satellite image of the residence of the former ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in northwestern Syria near the village of Barisha
‘He said, “I hadn’t heard about that. I’ll look into that Monday.”‘
In other parts of the interview, Carl cried as he described being told by some of the Yazidi girls who were held with Kayla but who managed to escape, how al-Baghdadi had raped his daughter.
‘It’s not second hand what happened to Kayla. He did those things. She was with him for a short period of the time she had been held but he raped her many times.
‘She was held in a house where they would tell her to “get ready, he’s coming.”
‘One of the Yazidi girls that escaped she said when she would come back from that she would go to her bed and just get under the covers and cry,’ Carl said, swallowing tears of his own.
The couple said it was an incredible ‘gift’ that the operation to kill him was named after their daughter.
‘I’d like to thank those brave soldiers and compliment the president on that successful mission. Amazing, amazing job,’ Carl said.
However he said there were no words to explain the feeling of being told that her captor had been killed.
‘I’m glad that evil person is gone of course, I’ve come up with a little answer and that is, if you’re a parent and this man did what he did to Kayla to your child and then they got him, how would you feel? The parents? I think they can answer that question without me saying much more.’
Trump called the ISIS terrorist a ‘gutless animal’ as he announced his death.
‘She was there to help people… and he was an animal. A gutless animal,’ he said of how he brutalized Kayla.