The family of Kayla Mueller said in an interview with the Washington Post that the FBI revealed to them that their daughter, a U.S. humanitarian worker, was held as a sex slave by the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The details of what happened to Mueller came from interviews with female Yazidi hostages and the wife of a senior Islamic State figure. The report says that Mueller was held hostage, raped repeatedly, and tortured. The family were given more details two weeks ago, after an initial report on Mueller's captivity by the FBI in June. The Independent reports that for members of ISIS, rape was seen as a "reward" for their victories and many of the women held captive would be given away to ISIS fighters as a "present."
Kayla Mueller protected the other girls when she could from the abuse and violence...often putting herself in harm's way.
One of the young Yazidi women told the paper that ISIS's sex trade was organized by Umm Sayyaf, the Iraqi wife of Abu Sayyaf, a Tunisian ISIS financier. Girls who shared a room with Mueller, all Yazidi teenagers who had been captured, said she protected them when she could from the abuse and violence of Sayyaf and ISIS fighters, often putting herself in harm's way. These details follow a report in the New York Times on how ISIS uses rape as a recruiting tool. The Times' reporting categorized ISIS fighters' incredible abuses against women and their hand in developing a sex trade that exploits young women and children from religious minorities. In discussing the piece with Refinery29, New York Times foreign correspondent Rukmini Callimachi said, "They explained their justification for slavery as theological, based on the fact that it is mentioned in the Quran, and that it was practiced, allegedly, by the Prophet Mohammed and his closest companions." ISIS claims that Mueller was killed earlier in 2015 by a bomb dropped on the building where she was being held. The U.S. government has confirmed her death, but not the cause. Mueller would have turned 27 on August 14. She was kidnapped while in Syria in August of 2013, after which ISIS demanded $5 million as a ransom. Mueller was working in Syria with the rescue group Support to Life, assisting refugees. Kayla Mueller's family is directing media to a video made by a friend, in lieu of any further statements.