Family of Kayla Mueller Happy ISIS Leader Is Dead

Raid was a 'lifeline' for embattled Trump
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 28, 2019 6:53 AM CDT
Family of Kayla Mueller Happy ISIS Leader Is Dead
In this May 30, 2013 photo, Kayla Mueller poses after speaking to a group in Prescott, Ariz.   (Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier via AP)

The parents of Kayla Mueller say they are "so grateful" to President Trump and the special forces soldiers who took part in the raid that led to the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Mueller, an aid worker from Arizona, was kidnapped by ISIS in 2013 and the group announced her death 18 months later. "She was held in solitary confinement. She was tortured ... She was ultimately raped by al-Baghdadi himself," father Carl Mueller tells the Arizona Republic."He either killed her or he was complicit in her murder," he says. "I’ll let people who read this article make up their own mind how a parent should feel." Mueller's parents say Trump knows their daughter's story and they have faith that he will continue to hunt down the militants involved. More:

  • A much-needed triumph. Analysts say the raid is a huge boost for Trump at a time when he is beset by both the impeachment inquiry and concerns about his foreign policy. Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian at Rice University, tells the AP that the ISIS leader's death is a "lifeline" for Trump. "Just when he is massively hemorrhaging, he is able to claim a foreign policy win," Brinkley says. "Impeachment will swirl around him but this is concrete."

  • Troop withdrawal complicated mission. The raid happened "largely in spite of, and not because of, Mr. Trump’s actions," according to the New York Times. Sources say when Trump announced the abrupt withdrawal of US troops from Syria, despite knowing the raid was in the works, commanders had to speed up planning for the mission. The sources say Kurds continued to provide the CIA with information of al-Baghdadi's whereabouts even after Turkey's offensive began.
  • Pelosi not informed. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi complained Sunday night that the White House told Russia about the raid but did not follow the protocol of informing congressional leaders about high-level military operations, the Washington Post reports. "The House must be briefed on this raid, which the Russians but not top congressional leadership were notified of in advance, and on the administration’s overall strategy in the region," Pelosi said. Trump said Sunday that he didn't tell Democrats about the raid because he didn't trust them not to leak details.
  • A second raid? The Guardian reports that Kurdish officials say a second US raid took place hours after the first one, targeting ISIS spokesman Abu Hassan al-Muhajir. It's not clear if the raid had already been planned, or if it happened based on information seized from al-Baghdadi's compound.
  • Did Trump say too much? Special operations veterans say Trump went into far too much detail when he discussed the raid, revealing details, including the route of helicopters. "I always get a little bit nervous when people without knowledge of operations start describing operations," former senior special operations commander Michael Nagata tells Politico. He says Obama administration officials also overshared after the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
(Here's how the US found the ISIS leader.)

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