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12 February 2015


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She is/was a fierce anti Israeli leftist.


Directly after the big Jordan air-attack IS claimed that she was killed in that attack. It provided a picture of the destroyed building. Two days later it provided the pictures to the family. That seems spontaneous not a planned "see she is dead" stunt. I see no reason to doubt that.

The Jordanian attack was based on U.S. target data.

The U.S. claims it was IS that killed the women, not the Jordanian bombs but it also claims that it does not know how exactly she died. THAT indeed sound very fishy to me like skipping out any possible legal responsibility.

The letter she wrote is from 2014 (unclear if from February or November) and was allegedly transported by cell mates who were released. If true, which the family will know, than she was indeed in captivity and not on a voluntary stay.

That anonymous counter-terrorism official with the new tale of her being married off to some IS guy may just be additional smoke to hide that her death was caused by U.S. intelligence data.

cville reader

Mueller is reported to have been captured sometime in the summer of 2013. If she, in fact, was "married" to a member of ISIS somewhere in that time frame, she could easily have had a child since then.

This of course is total speculation, but it would seem to explain why she might have been treated differently, and perhaps why she would not necessarily want to be rescued. It would also explain why her family would not want many details discussed in the press.

From what I have read, she was kept with other female "prisoners." Perhaps they were also "brides", either of other ISIS members or, of one particular ISIS member. I doubt that ISIS believes in monogamy.


Mr. Lang,

Of the veracity of the accounts of her death and its manner, I have nothing to say. The one "authentic" statement that we do have is her letter to her parents citing a date 11/2014.

1. she states she wrote the letter intermittently since she could only write a paragraph at a time; in it she was clearly describing herself as being in a very difficult predicament though treated well etc..otherwise all her projections are towards a future release and reunion, and expressions of guilt towards her parents.

Having been interested in reading more about her due to previous studies in this area, I saw her statement as to the fairness of her treatment as a reflection of her personality: she was very fair, generous, spiritual, spent time with Thich Nhat Hanh at Plum Village, has been interested in Buddhist teaching ..

there is a list of her previous activities at the bottom of this page:


2. to me her view of reality and her life are those of a mystic who has chosen the path of action; she bears a strong similarity to the life and writing of Simone Weil ( who had been a focus of my own studies a few decades ago)


3. Would someone like her develop a Stockholm syndrome in the next phase ? subsequent to what we read in her letter of a few months ago?

The field of Psychotraumatology is a budding one, there is no consensus on who is at risk for such types of syndromes - for they are a few- there is a push in the field towards classifying them under the heading of Complex PTSD which I did not detect any signs or symptoms of in her letter.



"Two days later it provided the pictures to the family. That seems spontaneous not a planned "see she is dead" stunt." Why? That is plenty of time to do it. pl


I thought the whole thing was strange too.

Are there other western female hostages? Do we know how they were treated?



"Would someone like her develop a Stockholm syndrome in the next phase ? subsequent to what we read in her letter of a few months ago?" I think it is quite possible from my observation of people who have been under that much stress. BTW, you cannot simply dismiss the circumstance or the truth of her death so airily. pl

cville reader


I haven't seen anything that says the US is claiming that IS killed Mueller. What they have said, it that IS is responsible for her death.

I take that to mean that IS forced her into captivity, and placed her in a war zone, against her will.

The Moar You Know

You gotta go all the way down the rabbit hole to even start asking questions:

1. Did such a person as "Kayla Mueller" exist? Yes.
2. Did this person travel in a lot of "dangerous" areas? Maybe. Less proof. If so, she was unbelievably lucky for a long period of time.
3. Was this person actually captured and then killed by the organization known as ISIS/ISIL?

Who knows. This is where the story vanishes from the land of reality and travels firmly into the murky world of "guesswork".

I do not believe anything that's been released about this person in the last month. Not from her supposed captors, not from the US government, not from the damned media, not from her family. Nobody. I don't know what happened and don't even have the data to make an educated guess.

And neither does anyone else.

Patrick Bahzad

My take on this ... for all its worth. Sorry but this may sound a bit "cold" again to some readers:
1) she was not a bargaining chip ? TRUE with regard to the US (Nothing could be gained through threatening to kill her .. and the fact is, ISIS never threatened to execute her in the same way they did for other hostages) but also FALSE (in the sense, she still had market value to ISIS as potential "concubine" and could have been sold on the 'market') ... in any case, both these elements would tend to show ISIS had nothing to gain in killing her.
2) circumstances of her alleged death: the airstrike, target data and all the other evidence, including pics of destroyed building and statements made either by ISIS or by US officials (on or off the record) are useless in determining what or who allegedly killed her.
3) the pics of her dead body sent two days after the airstrike: could be interpreted both ways, either pointing to her actual death in the airstrike, or a disinformation ops planned in advance or even after the airstrike (two days is more than enough for something that simple). What it would definitely tend to disprove is the assumption she was killed by ISIS, the burial arrangements in particular do not match MO for ISIS 'execution' of hostages.
4) her captivity: what strikes me is that even after her alleged death, US intel seems to have known very little about her whereabouts or her actual state of mind during her 'captivity' ... my conclusion: we're blind and deaf when it comes to ISIS, human assets there are non existent or too unreliable.
5) the possibility of stockholm syndrom: I'm not a shrink, but I have an eye for human weakness or what could be construed as weakness, even though it may be a genuine human quality (just saying this to avoid misunderstandings). But Kayla Mueller also strikes me as someone capable of a lot of empathy, having a weakspot for human suffering and being open to different spiritual and religious teachings. Based just on that, i would draw another conclusion than the one I've read in a post above. Than again, I don't have a degree in psychotraumatology, I've only seen how people can change over time, in 'extraordinary' circumstances.
5) the environment and tactics of ISIS: it wouldn't be the first time ISIS has announced the death of either one of their fighters or a hostage, only for contradictory information to turn up later showing this was false. There can be various reasons for this, including in Kayla Mueller's case.
Short of a body being produced - sorry but that's how you actually get real confirmation - all of this sounds very hypothetical to me.

Paul Escobar


That has two implications.

One is what is being discussed here: that she viewed IS as a vehicle to act out her political convictions.

The other implication, which is not being discussed here, is that she earned her the enmity of any number of Israel-first officials in Washington. Perhaps they hastened her death? Perhaps they wish to bury character so that she would not inspire others?

It's so hazy - I lean either way,
Paul Escobar

Charles I

Maybe we have started to send in or turn women as intel assets, total what if, in any event I'd bet if forced to wager she's dead or will be w/o seeing home again.


Who cares? For those of who pledged allegiance to the U.S. Constitution, the fact that she was American is all that matters.

Ex-PFC Chuck

For a whole different take on this affair see John Robb's post on Global Guerillas:


This family is from north of Phoenix, up in Prescott, so its been a non stop barrage of Kaela Mueller's family giving trite bits of memorial nonsense while crying hysterically.

For all intents and purposes "Kayla Mueller" might be dead, but Kay-la bin Mueller might be alive and well.

(apologies for my car crash of arab naming conventions)


I'm sure there's no chance she's a female aid worker version of Bowe Bergdahl.


Mr. Lang,

I did not mean to be dismissive of the truth or the circumstance of her death, I- like others- do not know what to believe on the subject. If we take the facts chronologically as they were reported I, like b, tend to believe that the Jordanian attacks killed her, but also suspecting that ISIS would not waste any opportunity to place the blame of her death on the Jordanians, just a few days after the abomination of their killing of the Jordanian pilot. On the other hand, as Patrick Bahzad stated, we do not understand the MO of the ISIS, what they will and will not do.

The later stories of her being "a bride" and seen in company of an ISIS fighter sound wild, Wahhabis would simply never go around with women that would be unveiled so that they could be recognized; even if one of them felt like doing so, the communal standard would forbid it.

I do wonder if she is going to be buried over there or if her parents are going to be able to receive her body through some intermediary and bury her at home.



"The later stories of her being "a bride" and seen in company of an ISIS fighter sound wild, Wahhabis would simply never go around with women that would be unveiled so that they could be recognized; even if one of them felt like doing so, the communal standard would forbid it." You are very sure of yourself. http://www.foreignaffairs.com/files/imagecache/800x/images/RTRJZWA.jpg What are these? What are your qualifications to make such sweeping judgments? pl

Babak Makkinejad

'bint' (daughter) Mueller and not 'bin' (son) Mueller.


Everything surrounding ISIS feels very odd to me. Not just on a conspiracy sense, but the very fact of its existence seems like a sign of something greater and possibly more troubling. Its hard to put into words, but the closest analogy would be if I was watching the rise of Mordor again. Its... troubling.

I reckon part of it is that in the face of this you have the US President taking selfies and laughing for Buzzfeed to play to millennial idiots while 300 Marines are supposedly cut off in Ramadi. I know I've said before that the destruction of a major maneuver element in the US Armed Forces is going to be required to effect change, but now I don't think so. I think that if, God forbid, something like that happened under this President you'd have the usual subjects (such as Ezra Klein, Matt Yglesias, and all the other young junior communists) running cover for Obama and his administration.

I don't know what I'm seeing anymore. I feel like am watching the world go mad.

Right now it is only the anchor of having a family that is keeping me from going to Dahuk to join the fight, but I don't even know how long that will last. Its invading my dreams now.


Mr. lang,

The picture you posted is not under ISIS, it bears the caption:

Iraqi Islamist women hold a counter protest during a pro-women's rights rally in Baghdad, August 2005. (Courtesy Reuters). NO idea why this picture was chosen for this article.

This what it looks like in Rakka the "capital" of Isis in Syria courtesy of France 2:


My qualifications : years of traveling back and forth in the area alone or with colleagues for teaching and medical consultations, though semi-retired now - I am consulting on the establishment of a new medical facility in Riyadh built and staffed through a large medical health system in the US.

Abu Sinan

What interests me is that she was shown in a shroud. That is the traditional Muslim way of burying someone. They are washed, oiled, and wrapped in a shroud. Were other hostages treated in this way after their death? If she was treated differently, in a way according to Muslim practice, why?

I havent seen the picture, but I would also wonder if she was actually washed, or was she just placed into the shroud without being washed? The normal Muslim practices is for someone to be washed after they died and placed in the shroud. This is not the case for someone who is seen to have died a martyr's death. They are put into the shroud unwashed. The belief is that none of that is necessary for a martyr who will automatically go to heaven. The proof of the martyrdom is partially in the wounds and the damage itself. Martyrs are not washed.



The Arabic on the signs is very simple. "Official Islamic State." Can you read Arabic? I watched the French video. The reaction of the man in the car to the partially veiled woman indicates that the sight of a partially veiled woman is not unusual for him since he takes the time to correct her. Rules are made to correct behavior you don't like. If there is no such behavior you don't need the rules. So, you are some sort of medical contractor. What is your point? You begin to sound very familiar in your approach to discourse. This sounds like the standard Hasbara "wind up" to a full blown attack. pl

Abu Sinan

The men of ISIL are coming from all sorts of backgrounds, and according to many accounts, many come from secular upbringing and are not overly religious. Seeing women with their face uncovered would not be an issue.


Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby was asked Tuesday if there was any doubt who killed the aid worker.

He replied: “No doubt. ISIL,” using the initials the group is known by.

Kirby says U.S. officials still don’t know how Mueller died. But he added that officials are certain it was not in one of the airstrikes Jordan launched in retaliation for the killing of one of its pilots.

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