ISIS Hostage Had Spent Her Life Working for Others, Parents Say

(NEW YORK) — The female American aid worker that died while being held hostage by ISIS had spent much of her young life working internationally to help humanitarian causes, her family revealed.

Kayla Mueller was captured by ISIS while working to help Syrian refugees on Aug. 4, 2013 and her family has made it clear that they plan to honor her work.

The family released a statement Tuesday just after the White House confirmed that Mueller, 25, had died. ISIS claimed that she died as part of a Jordanian airstrike, but her cause of death has not been formally verified by intelligence sources.

“Kayla was a compassionate and devoted humanitarian,” her family said in their statement. “She dedicated the whole of her young life to helping those in need of freedom, justice, and peace.”

Mueller graduated from Northern Arizona University in 2009 “after only two and a half years,” during which time she launched her school’s chapters of Amnesty International and STAND, a national student group aimed at putting an end to genocide, her family said.

Between graduation and 2011, she worked in northern India as well as in areas effected by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She then returned to the U.S. and worked at an HIV/AIDs clinic during the day while volunteering at a women’s shelter at night.

Her next international trip came in December 2011 when she worked as an au pair in France, but even that had a humanitarian element to it as she hoped that her improved language skills would help her to someday work in Africa.

At the same time, Mueller also created a blog where she wrote about different conflicts that she hoped to see resolved, touching on Tibet, Darfur and local environmental issues in Arizona.

She traveled to Turkey in December 2012 to help Syrian refugees, where she was captured by ISIS eight months later.

“We are so proud of the person Kayla was and the work that she did while she was here with us,” the family said in their statement. “She lived with purpose, and we will work every day to honor her legacy.”

The family — Mueller’s parents Carl and Marsha Mueller, her brother Eric and his family — have asked that in lieu of flowers, supporters donate to causes that Mueller believed in.

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