The Death of Kayla Jean Mueller (February 10)

Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State

Washington, DC
February 10, 2015

All Americans mourn the loss of Kayla Mueller, a compassionate young American who represented everything good about the human spirit. There are no words to express to Kayla’s parents, Marsha and Carl, how sorry we are for their crushing loss, just how much so many wished for and worked to try and secure a better outcome, or how awe-inspiring is the example of their strength, determination, and devotion to faith and family. To them, and to Kayla’s brother Eric and his family, I hope they can know that our entire country grieves together with all those whose lives she touched.

I have learned a great deal about Kayla through the stories shared about her during this awful period. She was someone any of us would be lucky to know as a daughter, sister, friend, or colleague. She so purposefully had one mission in life from the very start, and that was to help people: people in India, Israel, and the Palestinian Territories, people at an HIV/AIDS clinic and a women’s shelter at home in Arizona, and, most recently, Syrian refugees in Turkey. While ISIL exploited the crisis in Syria to rule by violence and massacre the innocent, human tragedy moved Kayla to do the opposite. She embraced children who had lost their parents. She comforted the sick and the wounded. She gave people hope even as their world fell apart around them. Kayla’s sense of values, her humanity and generosity, her idealism – this is what will endure, and it will endure long, long after the barbarity of ISIL is defeated.

ISIL, and ISIL alone, is the reason Kayla is gone. Like our friends in Jordan, our resolve is unshaken to defeat this vile and unspeakably ugly insult to the civilized world and to defeat terrorists whose actions – killing women, killing children, burning people alive – are an insult to the religion they falsely claim to represent.