If you’re the praying type, pray that it’s true. If they’re willing to burn a Jordanian man alive, you can imagine what they’d be willing to do to an American woman.
An Islamic State message published by the SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks jihadist activity, said the American woman was killed when the building where she was being held in the Raqqa area collapsed in an airstrike.
“The failed Jordanian aircraft killed an American female hostage,” said the message. “No mujahid was injured in the bombardment, and all praise is due to Allah.” Mujahid means fighter…
There was no immediate way to verify the claim by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. But it identified the hostage by name, Kayla Mueller, for the first time, and gave her address in Prescott, Ariz., apparently to add credibility to its message. The group also posted photographs of an obliterated house where, it said, Ms. Mueller’s body had been buried beneath the rubble…
Jordanian officials cast doubt on the report but did not explicitly rule it out. Jordan’s foreign minister, Nasser S. Judeh, said on his Twitter account that the claim was “An old and sick trick used by terrorists and despots for decades: claiming that hostages human shields held captive are killed by air raids.”
No jihadis were injured in an airstrike powerful enough to crush a building, huh? The only way that’s true is if no one was standing guard, and given that U.S. special forces have tried to spring ISIS hostages before, someone was surely standing guard. If this happened the way they’re claiming, there were certainly ISIS casualties too. A cold comfort, but it’s something.
The story seems suspicious, though. Blaming a Jordanian airstrike reeks of propaganda: Jordan vowed to punish ISIS for murdering its captured pilot so now here’s ISIS seemingly countering with a psy op, alleging that the most prominent victim of Jordan’s wrath thus far is an American woman. It’s too convenient. But if this is nothing more than an ISIS lie, why would they blame Jordan for killing Mueller when they probably intended her for their worst jihadi snuff video yet? They have no incentive to say that she’s dead if she isn’t — if nothing else, it spoils even the small possibility of a prisoner swap or ransom — and they have no incentive to give someone else the “glory” of murdering her when they could have had it for themselves.
If it’s true, I wonder if Jordan or whichever air force actually carried this out didn’t target the prison deliberately, based on intelligence that she was being held there. Sending U.S. special forces into Raqqa, ISIS’s capital, would have been risky. If any of them had been killed, they’d have been mutilated for sport on camera; if any had been captured, it would have been the Jordanian pilot redux. A prisoner swap or ransom was also unlikely, the Bergdahl deal notwithstanding, given that ISIS is a sworn enemy while the Taliban is someone we’ll kinda have to tolerate in post-America Afghanistan. (Then again, ISIS may have reasoned that the U.S. would be more willing to negotiate over a woman’s safe return. The horrendous brutality shown to their Jordanian hostage might have been a way of pressuring the White House to play ball.) The only way to spare Mueller the ordeal of whatever ISIS had planned for her was to kill her quickly ourselves. Let’s see if the White House signs onto ISIS’s narrative that it was the Jordanians who did it and that they did it accidentally. That would spare Obama all sorts of political headaches.