Parents of slain humanitarian worker Kayla Mueller rip Obama administration, back Trump in RNC remarks

Carl and Marsha Mueller — the parents of humanitarian worker Kayla Mueller, who was reported dead in 2015 after being abducted by ISIS — argued their daughter might still be alive if the Obama administration had been tougher, in their speech during the fourth and final night of the Republican National Convention.

“Let me just say this: Kayla should be here. If Donald Trump had been President when Kayla was captured, she would be here today,” Carl Mueller said in an emotional speech Thursday night.

Mueller, 26 was a humanitarian worker from Prescott, Ariz., who was abducted by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham fighters along with her boyfriend in 2013, after leaving a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Aleppo, Syria.

“Kayla had a gift to be able to see the world through someone else’s eyes,” Marsha Mueller said Thursday night. “She became a humanitarian aid worker and when she was helping children at an orphanage in India, Kayla wrote, ‘I find God in the suffering eyes reflected in mine, if this is how you are revealed to me, this is how I will forever seek you.’”


Mueller was held prisoner by ISIS leader and founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who reportedly sexually abused and tortured her for 18-months, before blowing himself up in Oct. 2019 as U.S. Special Forces raided his compound.

“Kayla was mostly held in a 12-foot-by-12-foot cell in solitary confinement,” Carl Mueller said. “It was cold and dirty. ISIS terrorists shined bright lights in her face. They shaved her head. They beat her and tortured her. The leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, raped her repeatedly.”

He and his wife put his faith in the government, he said.

“For 18 months she endured. And we endured an agonizing back-and-forth between us, the Obama administration, and ISIS,” he added.

Militants claimed that Mueller was killed in a Jordanian airstrike in 2015, originally reported by the New York Times, although her body was never discovered.

Mueller’s parents believe that she may have been able to come home if President Obama had been as “decisive” as President Trump, as they explained in an October interview with the The Arizona Republic.

“President Obama refused to meet with us until ISIS had already beheaded other Americans. To this day, we’ve never heard from Joe Biden,” Carl Mueller said Thursday night. “Instead, the Obama administration hid behind policy so much that we felt hopeless when they kept us from negotiating to save Kayla’s life.”

The Obama administration was criticized for a failed rescue mission that aimed to bring home four American captives held in a makeshift prison in 2015.


U.S. Special Forces were too late, finding evidence that the prisoners had been held there, but were moved. Three of the prisoners were eventually beheaded on camera by the militant group, and Mueller, the only female, was later killed, according to the Washington Post.

Family members and critics have said the administration moved too slowly on giving the “green light” for the rescue mission.

Obama later said it was inaccurate to say the U.S. did not move on the mission as quickly as possible.

“Under President Trump, U.S. Army special operators conducted a raid on al-Baghdadi’s compound,” Carl Mueller said.

“After we learned that al-Baghdadi was killed, we learned something else: The operators named themselves ‘Task Force 814’ after Aug. 14, Kayla’s birthday,” Carl Mueller said. “And they named the mission Operation Kayla Mueller. To those soldiers: Thank you. Kayla was looking down on you.”

He was sure that his daughter would be alive today had Obama not been the president.

“If Donald Trump had been President when Kayla was captured, she would be here today,” the father said.


Kayla Mueller’s mother ended her speech with a heartfelt message, addressing the strength of Americans.

“Carl and I support Donald Trump because of his commitment to make and keep America great, not with the power of the government, but with the passion of people like Kayla — Americans who, even in the darkest days, always have more fight left inside of them,” she said.  “Americans who don’t just talk, they act.”

Audrey Conklin contributed to this report. 

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