WASHINGTON — The leader of the Islamic State personally kept a 26-year-old American woman as a hostage and raped her repeatedly, according to U.S. officials and her family.
The family of Kayla Mueller said in an interview Friday that the FBI had informed them that the emir of the self-proclaimed Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, had sexually abused their daughter, a humanitarian worker.
Mueller's parents said the FBI first spoke to the family about the sexual assault in June and provided more details approximately two weeks ago. The FBI pieced together what happened to the American from interviews with other hostages and the captured wife of a senior Islamic State figure.
The FBI also told the Muellers that their daughter, who was from Prescott, Ariz., was brutally abused.
"June was hard for me," said Marsha Mueller, Kayla's mother. "I was really upset with what I heard."
The disclosure that Kayla Mueller was raped by al-Baghdadi adds to the grim evidence that the exploitation and abuse of women has been sanctioned at the highest levels of ISIS. The sexual enslavement of even teenage girls is seen as religiously endorsed by the group and a recruiting tool.
"As a painful as this is for our family, we just feel like the world needs to know the truth," said Carl Mueller, Kayla's father.
ISIS claimed that Mueller was killed this year after a Jordanian fighter plane dropped a bomb on the house where she was being kept. The U.S. government confirmed the death, but not the cause.