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Mueller possibly paired with ISIS fighter, officials say

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By Pamela Brown and Dana Bash, CNN

(CNN)Kayla Mueller, an American aid worker and ISIS hostage whose death was confirmed by her family this week, might have been paired with a male ISIS fighter during her captivity, U.S. intelligence and government officials said Wednesday.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, cited unspecified intelligence gleaned about the case. A U.S. intelligence official said it was unclear whether Mueller was coerced, sold or forced into the pairing.

Intelligence suggests Mueller may have been given to an ISIS fighter as a sort of bride, one U.S. government official said.

Mueller's parents announced Tuesday that it had received confirmation that their daughter -- who was captured in northern Syria in 2013 -- had died.

ISIS sent the family a private message over the weekend with information about her death, National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said Tuesday.

The message included photos. One picture showed her wrapped in a burial shroud, but there was enough showing for the family and forensics examiners to identify her, a U.S. official briefed on the matter told CNN.

The information did not confirm how Mueller died, a law enforcement source familiar with the case said on condition of anonymity.

On Friday, ISIS said that Mueller, 26, of Arizona, had been killed in a building hit during a Jordanian airstrike on Raqqa, the militants' de facto capital in Syria. At the time, ISIS offered no proof to back up its claim, other than an image of a building in rubble.

The photos in the private weekend message showed bruises on the face, The New York Times reported, but it was unclear whether her injuries were consistent with being killed in the rubble of a flattened building, as ISIS claimed.

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Guest Wednesday, 23 September 2020