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Pentagon: “No doubt” ISIS killed American Hostage

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Reports continue to pour in regarding the death of American Kayla Mueller, the ISIS captive now confirmed dead.  Below is a series of Associated Press reports on a number of developments surrounding her death.

Cause of Death

WASHINGTON (AP) The Pentagon says American hostage Kayla Jean Mueller died at the hands of Islamic State and not in a Jordanian airstrike targeting the militant group.

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.

Mueller was taken hostage in August 2013 while leaving a hospital in Syria.

Letter to her Parents

WASHINGTON (AP) The parents of Kayla Jean Mueller have released a letter their daughter had written to them while being held by the Islamic State group.

In it, the 26-year-old aid worker said she was “in a safe location, completely unharmed.”

Mueller also tells her parents she is “fighting” and has “a lot of fight left inside.” She writes that she is “not breaking down” and “will not give in no matter how long it takes.”

Mueller traveled to the Turkish-Syrian border in December 2012 to work with several humanitarian groups. She was taken into captivity nine months later while leaving a hospital in Syria.

The White House says U.S. intelligence has authenticated a letter from the Islamic State group informing the Muellers of their daughter’s death but has not been able to determine how or when she died.

In a statement, Carl and Marsha Mueller say Kayla “lived with purpose,” and they pledge to “work every day to honor her legacy.”

Ransom Demands
WASHINGTON (AP) President Barack Obama says telling families of American hostages like Kayla Mueller that the U.S. will not pay ransom for their release is “as tough as anything I do.”
Still, Obama defended the U.S. government’s no ransom policy hours after Mueller’s family said it had received confirmation of her death from her Islamic State captors. The president says that by paying ransom, the U.S. would be strengthening terror groups and putting Americans at greater risk for future kidnappings.

The president says a rescue mission to recover Mueller and other hostages last summer probably missed them by “a day or two.”

Obama called Mueller an outstanding young woman with a great spirit that “will live on.” He spoke in an interview Tuesday with BuzzFeed News.

President’s Request to Use Force
WASHINGTON (AP) A Democratic senator says President Barack Obama request for approval to use force against Islamic State fighters stipulates there will be no enduring offensive combat operations against the terrorist group.
Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey also said the president is proposing legislation that will expire in three years, and cancels an existing authorization from 2002 that backed military operations in Iraq.

Menendez spoke with reporters after attending a closed-door meeting Tuesday with top White House aides in the Capitol. He did not say whether the aides further explained what was meant by enduring combat operations.

Obama is expected to submit legislation as early as Wednesday, although it could yet change.

Menendez is the senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.


AP-WF-02-11-15 0418GMT