A never-before publicly seen ‘proof of life’ video of ISIS captive Kayla Mueller has been released by her family, for use in a 20/20 broadcast called “The Girl Left Behind,” airing on Friday.
In the 10-second video, the then 25-year-old American aid worker states her full name and asks for help. “I’ve been here too long, and I’ve been very sick,” she said. “It’s, it’s very terrifying here,” she said, before the image — showing only her covered head and shoulders — is abruptly stopped.
Kayla’s mother, Marsha Mueller, noted that her daughter had clearly lost weight since being abducted by gunmen from a Doctors Without Borders car in Aleppo, Syria, on August 4, 2013. “I saw how thin she looked, but I saw that her eyes were very clear and steady,” said Marsha. “It broke my heart, but I also saw her strength.”
— ABC News (@ABC) August 25, 2016
“You just go into almost a catatonic state, I think. You can’t even stand up,” Kayla’s father Carl Mueller said in a recent interview, of his first reaction to seeing the footage three years ago.
A retired FBI chief hostage negotiator, Chris Voss, said the footage was clearly intended to open a negotiation — exploiting Kayla as a commodity to be traded either for money or in a prisoner exchange. The Muellers did not begin negotiations for another 10 months, however, having initially put all their faith in several small aid organizations and the U.S. government. Eventually, the family exchanged nine emails with the ISIS hostage takers, receiving a second — and final — audio-only clip recorded by Kayla, which ABC also details in its story.
It was later reported that Kayla had been held as a sexual slave, alongside young Yazidi women, including being repeatedly raped by ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. She was killed in a Jordanian airstrike on February 6, 2015, according to ISIS officials, who also sent her parents photographs as proof.
Read the full story at ABC.