Obama pays tribute to Palestine solidarity activist killed in Islamic State captivity

Kayla Jean Mueller

International Solidarity Movement

Note: This post has been updated since publication with a quote from the US Department of Defense.

US President Barack Obama today paid tribute to Kayla Mueller, the American woman who was killed while a captive of Islamic State, which the US government refers to by the initials ISIL.

Obama’s statement came after Mueller’s family said it had received confirmation of the 26-year-old’s death.

“We are heartbroken to share that we’ve received confirmation that Kayla Jean Mueller has lost her life,” Mueller’s parents said in a statement which came four days after Islamic State claimed that the Arizona native had been killed in a Jordanian airstrike near Raqqa, Syria.

Jordan had been carrying out bombing raids in the area in revenge for the murder of its captured pilot Muath al-Kasassbeh.

Mueller’s family did not reveal any information about the circumstances of her death.

Mueller had been abducted in August 2013 when she was in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo with personnel affiliated with Spanish Doctors Without Borders.

“While the intelligence community has concluded from the information provided by Kayla’s ISIL captors that Kayla is deceased, at this time we are not able to confirm a cause of death,” a US defense department official told The Electronic Intifada on background.

“At this time we do not have evidence to support ISIL’s claim of civilian casualties at the target struck on 6 February by the Royal Jordanian Air Force, with the support of US military aircrews,” the official added. “The target was a known ISIL weapons storage compound near Raqqa, Syria. Like some other targets, this was struck on previous occasions and damaged. What we are certain of is that ISIL is solely responsible for Kayla’s captivity and death.”

Palestine solidarity

“Kayla dedicated her life to helping others in need at home and around the world,” Obama said in a statement releated by the White House.

“In Prescott, Arizona, she volunteered at a women’s shelter and worked at an HIV/AIDS clinic.  She worked with humanitarian organizations in India, Israel, and the Palestinian territories, compelled by her desire to serve others,” Obama notes.

Yesterday, more information emerged of Mueller’s activities in the occupied West Bank in August-September 2010.

In a post paying tribute to her, the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) revealed that Mueller had “worked with Palestinians nonviolently resisting the confiscation and demolitions of their homes and lands” by Israeli occupation forces.

In the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, she stayed with the al-Kurd family to try to prevent the takeover of their home by Israeli settlers.

Kayla Mueller sits in a protest tent in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

International Solidarity Movement

Mueller accompanied Palestinian children to school in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood of Hebron, where they face frequent attacks from settlers and stayed with villagers in Izzbet al-Tabib in order to try to prevent the demolition of homes.

She also attended weekly protests in the village of Bilin.

In one of two posts she wrote about her experiences in Palestine, quoted by ISM, Mueller said:

Oppression greets us from all angles. Oppression wails from the soldiers radio and floats through tear gas clouds in the air. Oppression explodes with every sound bomb and sinks deeper into the heart of the mother who has lost her son. But resistance is nestled in the cracks in the wall, resistance flows from the minaret five times a day and resistance sits quietly in jail knowing its time will come again. Resistance lives in the grieving mother’s wails and resistance lives in the anger at the lies broadcasted across the globe. Though it is sometimes hard to see and even harder sometimes to harbor, resistance lives. Do not be fooled, resistance lives.

Today it is Mueller’s mother and father who are grieving. The memory of Mueller’s solidarity with those facing injustice will also live on.

Tags

Comments

picture

our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to Kayla's parents and loved ones.
her bravery and actions will continue to live on in our hearts.
May her soul rest in peace

picture

Very sad. But why hasn't Obama ever said anything about all the American Palestinian solidarity activists that Israel has murdered (or attempted to murder) in cold blood?

picture

Courageous young woman and believer in justice. Her short life will be remembered by all those she protected and served.

picture

People don't realise the CIA is responsible and the game is being played with all your lives.. Its galling to know that this government can pay tribute out of one side of its mouth and in the backroom create the very thong that allowed it to happen. But the bank on the fact the public is so naive and ignorant and propaganda stacked to realise the great con game going on..How fast the forget that only a short time ago the USA was sabar rattling to go on to Syria and other countries and got shot down by the world so theyycobcocted ISIL or ISIS or whatever they make up next..And they all knew the public was incapable of putting the dots together and this is how they ate getting away with it all..some of is see it clearly and keep trying to warn people that the official polite society political theater is a lie and a facade to hide the true hidden agenda of the current power paradigm.

picture

I agree with you. Our government has had it's hands in Isis as well as the Taliban, and in my humble opinion , the circumstances surrounding her arrival in that area are strang. Her parents did not know the young man who asked her to go with him to that region , and after reading how she stood with Palestinians , it seems that this innocent and good hearted girl was targeted . It's just my opinion and speculation at best, but sad to see a stand up human being die. This world needed someone like her, and now she's gone.

picture

I am sorry you feel that way, and did not mean to take away from her commitment to her fellow human beings.

picture

The best way we can pay tribute to Kayla Jean Mueller is to reveal the lies and resist in all the thousands of ways we can every day from not buying 'Israeli' wine made on stolen land to hammering our representatives. In other words to wake up and resist, as Kayla herself said:
"Oppression greets us from all angles.
Oppression wails from the soldiers radio and floats through tear gas clouds in the air.
Oppression explodes with every sound bomb and sinks deeper into
the heart of the mother who has lost her son.

But resistance is nestled in the cracks in the wall,
resistance flows from the minaret five times a day
and resistance sits quietly in jail knowing its time will come again.
Resistance lives in the grieving mother’s wails
and resistance lives in the anger at the lies broadcasted across the globe.

Though it is sometimes hard to see and even harder sometimes to harbor,
resistance lives.
Do not be fooled,
resistance lives."
~ Kayla Jean Mueller

picture

I don't remember but did the death of Rachel Corrie receive the same amount of publicity which has publicized Kayla Mueller's death? If not, then I wonder why.

picture

Kayla's activism in Iraq is at the forefront in the news stories. The story is framed as an American against ISIL with no mention in the mass media of her activism in Palestine. So, victim of ISIL brutality--good. Victim of Israeli brutality--under the radar. Rachel's family has been seeking justice for years to no avail. She has been excoriated on social media. Actually, I would like to see an ei article on the parallels between Kayla and Rachel. Today, on CBC radio I heard an announcer refer to Palestine as 'Israel's West Bank'. We can only struggle on.

Ali Abunimah

Ali Abunimah's picture

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.