Kayla Mueller, the American aid worker who died in February while a prisoner of the Islamic State, was repeatedly raped by ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi when she was being held captive. “They told us that he married her, and we all understand what that means,” Carl Mueller, Kayla’s father, told the Associated Press. The horrific news of what Mueller, 26, was forced to endure while in captivity was first reported by the Independent and then confirmed by her family to ABC News and AP. It marks the latest example of how rape “has become deeply enmeshed in the organization and the radical theology of the Islamic State,” as the New York Times reported recently.
Mueller, an aid worker from Prescott, Arizona was kidnapped in August 2013 and her family decided to speak up on her ordeal on the day when she would have turned 27. Al Baghdadi, who calls himself the “caliph” of the Islamic State, was the one who took Mueller to the house of Abu Sayyaf, a financier for the terror group. “Baghdadi was at the house of Sayyaf. He delivered Kayla Mueller, live and in person,” a counter-terrorism official told ABC News.
Al-Baghdadi took Mueller as a so-called “wife” and raped her repeatedly, according to a 14-year-old Yazidi girl who was also kept captive in the same location but managed to escape last year. “I saw him often, he came there often,” the Yazidi girl told the Independent. “And every time he came, he took Kayla away. She would always come back after.” Mueller would then tell of her ordeal and how “he had married her by force.”
The Yazidi teenager who talks to the Independent said four girls were kept with Mueller in one room and the older American often tried to protect her fellow prisoners. “The girls still speak fondly of Ms Mueller today,” notes the paper. Mueller’s family says they were told she was with three other Yazidi women, all of whom were sexually abused. “Kayla tried to protect these young girls,” her mother said. “She was like a mother figure to them.” When the Yazidi girl and her sister escaped, they asked Mueller to join them but she apparently refused out of fear that her obvious western appearance would put them all in danger.