By: Mariam Karouny
Islamic State said on Friday that an American woman hostage it was holding in Syria was killed when Jordanian fighter jets bombed a building where she was being held, but Jordan expressed doubt about the Islamist militant group’s account of her death.
In Washington, US officials said they could not confirm that the woman, 26-year-old humanitarian worker Kayla Mueller of Prescott, Arizona, had been killed.
Her family said in a statement on Friday they are hopeful she is alive and asked Islamic State to contact them.
Mueller was the last-known American hostage held by Islamic State, which controls wide areas of Syria and Iraq.
The group’s latest claim, detailed by the SITE monitoring group, came just days after it released a video on Tuesday showing a captured Jordanian pilot, Mouath al-Kasaesbeh, being burned alive in a cage.
Jordan’s King Abdullah, who was in Washington discussing how to deal with Islamic State militants when the video was made public, vowed to avenge the pilot’s death and ordered a stepped-up military role in the US-led coalition against it.
Jordan said it had carried out a second straight day of air strikes on Friday on Islamic State positions. “We are looking into it but our first reaction is that we think it is illogical and we are highly sceptical about it. … It’s part of their criminal propaganda,” government spokesman Mohammad Momani said in response to Islamic State’s account of what happened to Mueller.
“How could they identify Jordanian war planes from a huge distance in the sky? What would an American woman be doing in a weapons warehouse?” Momani said.