Last Updated Feb 11, 2015 8:45 AM EST
The U.S. intelligence community believes that American hostage Kayla Mueller was given as a bride to a fighter with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, during her captivity, CBS News has learned.
The White House confirmed the Arizona woman’s death Tuesday.
She is the fourth American to die in the hands of the extremist group.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill said all the circumstances around Mueller’s captivity and death underscore the need for Congress and the president to agree on a framework for a battleplan to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria, CBS News’ Major Garrett reports. Congress could receive President Obama’s formal proposal on that as early as Wednesday.
Mr. Obama knew Mueller’s inspiring story, one the country is just coming to fully appreciate. It’s one of the reasons the president called her parents before her death was publicly confirmed and why he issued such a lengthy statement of tribute.
CBS This Morning
ISIS defector on why he left extremist group, how he escaped
One western ISIS recruit gave CBS News a rare look into the violent world of ISIS, a world he joined before breaking free. Clarissa Ward joins “C…
The president also revealed for the first time that Mueller was one of the hostages U.S. forces tried to rescue in a failed covert operation in Syria in July.
Mr. Obama told Buzzfeed News the effort to free U.S. hostages is relentless.
“I deployed an entire operation — at significant risk — to rescue not only her but the other individuals that had been held and probably missed them by a day or two,” Mr. Obama said.
Rep. Paul Gosar, whose district includes the Mueller family’s home, told The Arizona Republic that there were several failed attempts to rescue Mueller.
CBS This Morning
Kayla Mueller’s Arizona hometown remembers her life of service
Much of Prescott, Arizona, Kayla Mueller’s hometown, is in shock over her death. Hardly anyone knew that she was being held by ISIS for the last …
In one, a man pretending to be Mueller’s husband appeared at the Syrian terrorist camp where she was being held and demanded her release. But Mueller, unaware it was a rescue mission, denied she had a husband and unknowingly botched a chance at freedom.
The White House is reviewing how to improve communication with families of Americans captured abroad, but the president stood by the longstanding U.S. policy banning the payment of ransom for any hostage.
“Once we start doing that, not only are we financing their slaughter of innocent people and strengthening their organization, but we’re actually making Americans even greater targets for future kidnappings,” Mr. Obama said.
Intelligence agencies confirmed Mueller’s death after reviewing a photo ISIS sent the Mueller family. While U.S. officials could not determine the cause of death, they denied ISIS claims she was killed in a Jordanian airstrike.
CBS Evening News
A reflection on Kayla Mueller’s shining spirit
Americans like Kayla Mueller shine like bright lights in the darkest places. The words she wrote while being held by ISIS are striking and remini…
“Let’s not forget in whose hands this woman died,” said Rear Adm. John Kirby, before referring to ISIS by ISIL, or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, “and let’s not forget who’s ultimately responsible for it: ISIL.”
On Capitol Hill, lawmakers praised Mueller’s efforts to aid Syrian refugees and her remarkably positive attitude throughout her captivity.
“The letter that she sent home showed incredible grace, incredible courage, incredible strength in the face of an enormous evil,” said Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota.