U.S. intelligence officials told the family of Kayla Mueller in June that the American hostage was repeatedly raped by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State group.
“They told us that he married her, and we all understand what that means,” Carl Mueller, Kayla’s father, told The Associated Press on August 14, which would have been his daughter’s 27th birthday.
The Islamic State group claimed Mueller was killed in a Jordanian air strike near Raqqah, the group’s self-declared capital in Syria. After her death was reported in February, U.S. officials confirmed that she was killed but did not offer details on the circumstances.
Her mother, Marsha Mueller, added, “Kayla did not marry this man. He took her to his room and he abused her and she came back crying.”
The so-called Islamic State, or ISIL, has beheaded, burned and crucified male captives while using captured women as sex slaves.
Mueller was held for a time by Islamic State financier Abu Sayyaf.
Al-Baghdadi repeated raped Mueller when he visited, according to a Yazidi teenager who escaped in October 2014, after being held with the American hostage.
The 14-year-old Yazidi girl made her way to Iraqi Kurdistan, where she talked to U.S. commandos in November 2014.
Intelligence agencies corroborated her account and American officials passed it on to her parents in June.
The Muellers said they were told by American officials that the financier’s wife, Umm Sayyaf, confirmed that al-Baghdadi had “taken” Kayla Mueller as his “wife” during a lengthy American interrogation in Iraq.
An American official, who was not authorized to be quoted by name and spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed their account according to a report by London’s Independent newspaper.
Abu Sayyaf was killed in a Delta Force raid of his Syrian compound in June, which resulted in a treasure trove of intelligence about the Islamic State group.
Umm Sayyaf has been turned over to the Iraqi Kurds for trial. The Muellers have been told that justice will be served in her case, said a family spokeswoman, Emily Lenzner.
Mueller was held with three other women, all Yazidis, the Muellers were told. All were sexually abused. When al-Baghdadi visited, he would take Mueller to his room, the witness told American officials. She would tell her fellow captives – sometimes tearfully – what had happened.
“Kayla tried to protect these young girls,” her mother said. “She was like a mother figure to them.”
When the teenage Yazidi girl escaped with her sister, she asked Mueller to accompany her, the parents were told, but Kayla refused, worrying that her obvious Western appearance would lead to their capture.
By the time the Yadizi escapee reported the situation to Delta Force commandos in Iraq, Kayla had been moved, her parents were told.
U.S. intelligence officials found information on Sayyaf’s computer indicating that Mueller, who spoke some Arabic, had been searching for information about fertility to help Umm Sayyaf, who was trying to get pregnant, according to two U.S. officials who refused to be quoted because the information is classified.
Mueller, from Prescott, Arizona, was taken hostage with her boyfriend, Omar Alkhani, in August 2013 after leaving a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Aleppo, Syria, where he had been hired to fix the Internet service for the hospital.
Mueller had begged him to let her tag along because she wanted to do relief work in the war-ravaged country.
Alkhani was released after two months, having been beaten.
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