Who is Kayla Jean Mueller? IS claims American hostage died in airstrike

The Islamic State issued a statement Friday claiming that an American female hostage had been killed in airstrikes by the Jordanian military.

They identified the deceased as Kayla Jean Mueller and produced images of the alleged bomb site on the outskirts Raqqa in northern Syria.

Though the claims have not been verified, they have focused the public’s attention on the young woman’s identity.

Mueller, 26, is a humanitarian aid worker from Prescott, Ariz., who traveled to the Middle East to alleviate whatever suffering she could for people caught up in Syria’s bloody, ongoing civil war, The Daily Courier reported in 2013.

The Prescott newspaper profiled Mueller on a trip back home to visit her family in Arizona. She spoke about her experiences at the Prescott Kiwanis Club, where her father is a member.

"This story is not rare in Syria," Mueller told the crowd. "This is the reality for Syrians two and a half years on. When Syrians hear I'm an American, they ask, 'Where is the world?' All I can do is cry with them, because I don't know."

Mueller moved to Turkey in 2012 to work for an international aid organization called Support to Life, the Washington Post reported. She was helping Syrian families who were fleeing to Turkey in order to escape the violence.

In August 2013, extremists abducted Mueller while she was helping at a hospital through the Spanish branch of Doctors Without Borders in the Syrian city of Aleppo, according to the newspaper.

Her captors reportedly sent her family proof of life and threatened to kill her if they did not pay a large ransom.

Before she was kidnapped, Mueller also worked in refugee camps for people who were scarred by the horrors of war through “psycho-social interventions,” according her hometown paper.

She drew, painted, and played with the children in an attempt to give them a safe, nurturing environment that was a far cry from the chaotic cities and villages they had left behind.

Through another aid group, she also helped Syrian women in refugee camps develop skills to support themselves, the paper reported.

A Daily Courier article from 2007 said she was also involved in the Save Darfur Coalition while she was a student at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.

"I love cultures and language and learning about people's cultures," she said at the time.

Terrorists with the Islamic State, who routinely release graphic videos of their victims’ corpses, did not include any photographic evidence of Mueller’s death, and U.S. authorities have yet to authenticate their claims.

The source of the message appears to be authentic, because it was posted to a radical website that IS routinely uses to spread propaganda.

If the latest claim is true, Mueller would be the fourth American to die while in the hands of IS since August.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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