For Marsha and Carl Mueller, the news was personal.
The death of Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Saturday was a big event to most Americans, a victory in the country’s long-running and likely endless war on terrorism.
But for the Muellers, whose daughter, Kayla, was tortured by Baghdadi’s henchman and reportedly raped by the terrorist himself while being held prisoner by the Islamic State in Syria, it was word they’ve long been waiting for.
In a newspaper interview published Sunday, the Muellers thanked President Donald Trump and the members of the United States military involved the raid that resulted in the death of their daughter’s tormenter — an operation military officials said was named in her honor.
The Muellers also offered a comparison between Trump and former President Barack Obama that every American should think about.
“We are so grateful for them … we are so grateful,” Marsha Mueller told the Arizona Republic.
“I still say Kayla should be here, and if Obama had been as decisive as President Trump, maybe she would have been,” Marsha Mueller said.
The operation that killed ISIS leader was named after Kayla Mueller, an American hostage who was captured by ISIS, tortured, raped by al-Baghdadi himself and then murdered.
Mueller refused to renounce her Christian faith while being an ISIS captive. May her memory be a blessing. pic.twitter.com/K3Xd50k4vU
— Hananya Naftali (@HananyaNaftali) October 27, 2019
Kayla Mueller was a humanitarian aid worker and human rights activist from Prescott, Arizona, who traveled to Syria to work with the Danish Refugee Council and an aid group called Support to Life, according to CNN.
She was taken hostage by the Islamic State group in Aleppo in 2013.
“She was held in many prisons,” Carl Mueller told the Republic. “She was held in solitary confinement. She was tortured. She was intimidated. She was ultimately raped by al-Baghdadi himself.”
National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien told “Meet the Press” on Sunday that the raid that left Baghdadi dead was named for Kayla Mueller.
“One of the things that Gen. [Mark] Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, did was named the operation that took down al-Baghdadi after Kayla Mueller, after what she had suffered,” O’Brien said, according to Fox News.
“And that was something that people should know. But justice was brought to those Americans who were so brutally killed, as were others, as the president pointed out.”
Kayla Mueller’s torment ended in 2015, when she was confirmed dead, though her body was never recovered, the Republic reported.
Before her death, Kayla was one of four Americans being held by the Islamic State group who were the objectives of a planned U.S. raid in Syria in 2015, according to Fox News.
“Specific intelligence had emerged in late May providing officials with the hostages’ likely location — including a building, sources told Fox News at the time,” Fox reported Monday.
“The intelligence was described as being ‘strong,’ ‘specific’ and ‘perishable,’ but the White House did not sign off on the rescue mission until much later, and it ultimately was launched July 4.”
That was too late.
“By the time U.S. commandos stormed the compound, the hostages were already gone,” Fox reported. “Some relatives and people who worked on the raid blamed the White House for not acting swiftly enough on giving the mission a green light.”
Obama and his then-National Security Advisor Susan Rice — a woman best known for her false account about the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya — claimed the U.S. had acted as quickly as possible, but for the family members like the Muellers, that’s no comfort.
The raid under Trump was different.
“We were deeply touched by what he said. We were grateful that they didn’t mess around and went right in,” Marsha Mueller said in a phone interview, according to CNN.
“I still say Kayla should be here, and if Obama had been as decisive as President Trump, maybe she would have been,” Marsha Mueller told the Arizona Republic.
“For me what matters most I’m hoping now we will finally get the answers we have been asking for all along,” she said. “I think this administration truly might help us. I don’t think they are as closed about what happened.”
For the Muellers, the news is personal. And the difference they see between Barack Obama and Donald Trump is one every American should know about.
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