By Stefan J. Bos, Special Correspondent A Worthy News
(Worthy News) - More details emerged about a young Christian missionary killed in Syria after U.S. Vice President Mike Pence dedicated Wednesday‘s vice-presidential debate to her.
Kayla Mueller was killed at age 26 in February 2015, more than a year after Islamic militants in Aleppo, Syria, kidnapped her, several sources said.
A prayer group closely monitoring her case told Worthy News that Mueller was a devoted Christian missionary serving refugees in Syria.
She developed her interest in mission work in college while joining United Christian Ministries, which provides Christian campus services to students of colleges and universities worldwide.
Mueller later worked for the Danish Refugee Council and the humanitarian organization Support to Life on the Turkey-Syria border.
The organizations helped families forced to flee their homes. She had lived in Turkey for eight months with her Syrian boyfriend, Omar Alkhani.
She was taken hostage with Alkhani in August 2013 by fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in August 2013. The abduction happened after they traveled to Syria, where he was hired to fix the internet service at a Doctors Without Borders affiliated hospital in Aleppo.
Kayla Mueller went because she desperately wanted to do mission work there, several sources said. Alkhani was released after two months, having been beaten, but she was held captive and reportedly sexually abused and tortured along with two other women.
A Danish man who was held hostage with Kayla Mueller said she was the only one to stand up to notorious British-Kuwaiti militant Mohammed Emwazi, better known as ‘Jihadi John.’
Daniel Rye Ottensen was held hostage alongside Brit Alan Henning and Americans James Foley and Kayla Mueller before being released following negotiations. He said, “Kayla refused to renounce her Christian faith” when pressured by Mohammed Emwazi.
"One of the Beatles (as the British speaking ISIS militant were called) started to say, 'Oh, this is Kayla, and she has been held all by herself. And she is much stronger than you guys. And she's much smarter. She converted to Islam.'
"And then she was like, 'No, I didn't,' he recalled in an interview. “I would not have had the guts to say that. I don't think so. It was very clear that all of us were impressed by the strength that she showed in front of us. That was very clear."
Her faith in Christ is shared by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who brought her parents to Wednesday’s vice presidential debate.
On the same day as the debate between the vice president and Democratic Senator Kamala Harris, two of those allegedly torturing Kayla Mueller were charged in Virginia.
Pence memorialized the late missionary and attacked Joe Biden for allegedly not doing more as then-vice president to rescue the missionary. “Her family says with a heart that broke they believe Kayla would be alive today,” Pence stressed. He echoed the words of her father, Carl Mueller, who said, “We put all our faith in government, but the government let us down.”
"The reality is that when Joe Biden was vice president, we had an opportunity to save Kayla Mueller," Pence said. “It breaks my heart to reflect on it, but the military came into the Oval Office and presented a plan. They said they knew where Kayla was.”
At the time, U.S. President Barack Obama’s team refused to intervene, Christians familiar with the situation said.
When they eventually authorized a raid to help rescue Mueller, she and other hostages had already been moved to a different location.
Her parents have praised President Donald Trump for authorizing the mission to kill the ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
The U.S. president announced on October 27, 2019, that the Islamic leader had been killed.
He said: "Baghdadi and the losers who worked with him – in some cases, people who had no idea what they were getting into and how dangerous and unglamorous it was – killed many people.”
Trump added: “Their murder of innocent Americans Jim Foley, Steven Sotloff, Peter Kassig, and Kayla Mueller were especially heinous."
The four families of those killed have urged Trump not to try captured suspects at the military court at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and not to seek their execution.
"Either path would make them martyrs in the eyes of their fanatic, misled comrades in arms — the worst outcome," they wrote. "Instead, they should be tried in our fair and open legal system, or in a court of international justice, and then spend the rest of their lives in prison. That is what our children would have wanted."
U.S. governments have rarely ignored the wishes of families of terrorism victims about how perpetrators should be held accountable.
Prayergram, the group praying for Kayla Mueller’s family, told Worthy News that Kayla Mueller’s death “should motivate the 59 million Christians who did not vote in 2016”.
They should “vote as if life depended on it because it does.” It noted the debate that Mike Pence dedicated to her “clearly delineated the dramatic differences” facing voters. “The debate contrasted the two views of America’s future and the way the two administrations treated Kayla Meuller,” Prayergram said.
“One [the Obama administration was] ignoring her families pleas for help resulting in her death. But the other [Trump administration was] honoring this precious missionary who gave her life for the people of Syria.”
Her life for the “cause of Christ illustrated the choice as no other could,” the group stressed.