The leader of the self-proclaimed "Islamic State" group repeatedly raped a United States aid worker who was being held hostage, the woman's family has been told. Kayla Mueller's death was reported in February.
The parents of Kayla Mueller (pictured), an aid worker who was killed aged 26 while being held by "Islamic State," told media on Friday that US government officials had informed them in June that their daughter had been raped by the self-proclaimed "caliph" of the "IS" group, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi.
"They told us that he married her, and we all understand what that means," Kayla's father Carl Mueller told the Associated Press news agency on Friday, which would have been his daughter's 27th birthday. Her mother, Marsha Mueller, added "Kayla did not marry this man. He took her to his room and he abused her and she came back crying."
They had told ABC News that US officials had told them their daughter has been treated as "the property of al-Baghdadi."
A Yazidi teenager who was also held in captivity by IS financier Abu Sayyaf and his wife told US authorities that al-Baghdadi would sexually assault the American hostage when he visited them.
Kayla's mother said her daughter "tried to protect" the younger girls she was being held with.
Captive for 18 months
In February, "IS" announced that Mueller was killed when fighter jets from Jordan bombed a building near Raqqa, where she was being held. The US has confirmed her death but said the circumstances surrounding it remained unclear. Mueller was kidnapped by "IS" after visiting a hospital in the Syrian city of Aleppo in August 2013. She had originally traveled to Turkey in December 2012 to work for an organization providing humanitarian aid for Syrian refugees.
The "Islamic State" group, which took over large parts of Iraq and Syria during 2014, has carried out several high-profile killings of Western hostages, as well as mass executions, beheadings, and crucifixions of mainly male captives. The militants have taken women as sex slaves. The "New York Times" reports that female captives from the Yazidi religious minority have been subjected to systemic rape and traded as property.
Rare US raid
US officials told media their information about al-Baghdadi's direct role in the imprisonment and sexual abuse of Mueller was drawn from several sources, including interviews with two teenage Yazidi girls who had also been held as sex slaves in Sayyaf's compound, and the interrogation of Sayyaf's wife Umm Sayyaf.
Abu Sayyaf was killed in May during a raid of his Syrian compound by US commandos. His wife was captured and handed over to Iraqi Kurdish authorities.