The parents of Kayla Mueller, the young Christian woman kidnapped and slain by ISIS, attended the vice presidential debate on Wednesday as guests of Vice President Mike Pence, who mentioned their daughter’s ordeal during his face-off with Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA).
After laying out what he characterized as President Donald Trump’s foreign policy successes, Pence brought up both ISIS as well as Carl and Marsha Mueller, saying, “When President Trump came into office, ISIS had captured an area of the Middle East the size of Pennsylvania. But President Trump unleashed the American military, and our armed forces destroyed the ISIS caliphate and took down their leader, al-Baghdadi, without one American casualty.”
“al-Baghdadi was responsible for the deaths of thousands,” Pence continued, “But notably, our hearts are with the parents of Kayla Mueller, who are here with us in Salt Lake City today. Two of the ISIS killers who are responsible for her murder were brought to justice by the United States. Jihadi John was killed on the battlefield along with the other Beatle.”
“The reality is when Joe Biden was vice president, we had an opportunity to save Kayla Mueller,” Pence said. “It breaks my heart, but it came to the White House, they said they knew where she was. They held her for 18 months, abused her mercilessly before they killed her. But when Joe Biden was vice president, they hesitated for a month, and when armed forces finally went in, it was clear she had been moved two days earlier. And her family says with heart, that broke the heart of every American, that if President Donald Trump had been president, they believe she would be alive today. We destroyed the ISIS caliphate.”
Kayla was performing humanitarian work in Syria when she was kidnapped by ISIS in 2013, after which she became the personal prisoner of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. She was reportedly killed during allied air strikes in 2015.
In April 2019, the Muellers told The Daily Caller that they believe their daughter would have been saved if Trump had been president when she was kidnapped.
“We have many questions that we still need to answer that the previous administration has blocked,” Mueller told the Caller. “Our story is starting to come out because obviously we’re coming out of the closet in a big way. We told Secretary Pompeo at our private meeting with the other families that we truly believe that if this current administration was in when Kayla was captured, she would be home. We truly believe that.”
In October 2019, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley named the operation that led to al-Baghdadi’s death after Kayla.
The chairman of the joint chiefs of staff named the operation that took down al-Baghdadi after Kayla Mueller, after what she had suffered,” White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien told NBC News’ “Meet the Press” Sunday after President Trump announced the death of the terrorist leader. That decision, O’Brien said, “was something that people should know.”
In his national address Sunday, Trump specifically named Kayla as one of the victims of al-Baghdadi’s “depraved” terrorist organization. “Their murder of innocent Americans — James Foley, Steven Sotloff, Peter Kassig, and Kayla Mueller — were especially heinous,” said Trump, who went on to list the murder of a Jordanian pilot and the execution of Christians and Yazidis among the atrocities carried out by the barbaric terrorist group.
In a phone interview with CNN, Kayla’s father Carl Mueller said the family has been experiencing a “roller coaster of emotions” since Trump’s announcement Sunday morning. Kayla’s mother, Marsha Mueller, added that they were “deeply touched” by what President Trump said in his televised national statement and “grateful” that the military “didn’t mess around” and took action.
The Muellers were guests of honor at the president’s State of the Union address earlier this year, during which Trump praised Kayla for her faith in the midst of suffering.
“We are joined this evening by Carl and Marsha Mueller,” Trump said. “After graduating from college, their beautiful daughter, Kayla, became a humanitarian aid worker. She once wrote, ‘Some people find God in church, some people find God in nature, some people find God in love. I find God in suffering. I’ve known for some time what my life’s work is: using my hands as tools to relieve suffering.'”
Related: Operation To Take Down Baghdadi Named After ISIS Victim Whose Parents Condemned Obama’s Inaction