Kayla Mueller's parents wanted her 'to tell the truth'

AP News
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Posted: Feb 24, 2015 10:01 AM
Kayla Mueller's parents wanted her 'to tell the truth'

PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) — Kayla Mueller's parents say they wanted their daughter to tell the truth, though doing that may have cost her a chance to gain her freedom from Islamic State militants.

The international aid worker and her Syrian boyfriend were taken hostage in August 2013. He was released but returned to Syria to try to free her by telling the militants that they were married. Kayla Mueller denied it.

Carl Mueller told NBC's "Today" in an interview excerpt shown Tuesday that his daughter's situation "could have gone even more wrong had she lied." And Marsha Mueller said she wanted her daughter "to tell the truth."

The Muellers also said they had no reason to doubt the boyfriend, Omar Alkhani.

"Throughout this whole ordeal, there's very few people that we didn't doubt at some point — very few that we didn't doubt that they didn't have some other motive or ulterior motive, but we know he risked his life to try to save her," Carl Mueller said.

Mueller's death was confirmed Feb. 10 by her family and U.S. officials. The militant group claimed she died in a Jordanian airstrike, but U.S. officials have not confirmed that.

Mueller, 26, who grew up in Prescott, Arizona, and Alkhani were captured after leaving a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Aleppo, Syria.

Alkhani told The Associated Press in a Feb. 15 interview via webcam from Turkey that he was released 20 days after being captured. While he was a hostage, he was beaten and interrogated about his work as a photographer, his religion and his relationship to Mueller, he said.

Alkhani said he decided to return to try to free her and persuaded a string of people to let him plead for Mueller's release, but that he left without her after she denied they were married.

The militants told Mueller that Alkhani would not be harmed if she told the truth, so she apparently stuck to honesty to save him rather than take the slim chance to save herself, he said.

"Since she's American, they would not let her go anyway. No sense to stay here, both of us," Alkhani told the AP. "Maybe she wanted to save me. Maybe she didn't know I came back to save her."

Carl and Marsha Mueller said in the NBC interview that they were aware that Alkhani planned to return to get their daughter and urged him not to risk his life to do that.

"He went in anyway," Carl Mueller said.