'Thinking of you all fills me with tears' - Kayla Mueller
Kayla Mueller, the aid worker from Arizona who was held hostage by Isil, has been killed, the White House confirmed yesterday.
The confirmation came four days after the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) announced that 26-year-old Ms Mueller had been killed in a Jordanian air-strike ordered in reprisal for the burning to death of a captured fighter pilot.
Ms Mueller's parents, Carl and Marsha, had said last weekend that they still held out hope their daughter was alive, but that hope expired yesterday morning.
Officials were unable to immediately confirm the cause of her death.
"Over the weekend a private message was received from Kayla's Isil captors containing additional information," said the US National Security Council in statement, "Once this was authenticated by the intelligence community, they concluded that Kayla was deceased."
"We are heartbroken to share that we've received confirmation that Kayla Jean Mueller, has lost her life," her parents said in a short statement.
"Kayla was a compassionate and devoted humanitarian. She dedicated the whole of her young life to helping those in need of freedom, justice, and peace."
In a newly-released letter home written in captivity last November, Ms Mueller said that she was being well-treated, had even put on weight, but could only write a paragraph a day because "just the thought of you all sends me into fits of tears".
Saying that she had surrendered herself to God to enable her to be free even in captivity, Ms Mueller reassured her parents that "I have a lot of fight left inside of me. I am not breaking down.
"And I will not give in, no matter how long it takes."
She concluded by looking forward to a reunion that was to never take place. "The thought of your pain is the source of my own, simultaneously the hope of our reunion is the source of my strength... Do not fear for me, continue to pray as will I and by God's will we will be together soon."
US President Barack Obama confirmed the death with "profound sadness" while eulogising Ms Mueller for her humanitarian work first at an HIV/Aids shelter in her home town of Prescott, Arizona and later on the Turkish-Syrian border providing help and comfort to refugees from Syria's bloody civil war. She was taken into captivity in August 2013 while leaving a hospital in Syria, becoming the only female hostage held by the group.
"Kayla's compassion and dedication to assisting those in need shows us that even amongst unconscionable evil, the essential decency of humanity can live on," Mr Obama said in tribute to a young American who he said had worked tirelessly to improve the lives of others.
Carol Thompson, a former professor of Ms Mueller, also paid tribute to her former student.
"I hope her death and the deaths of the other hostages will unite the world to stop this cycle of violence and vengeance," she told CNN, quoting a letter written by Ms Mueller to her parents saying that she had "found God" in the suffering of others.
"Kayla always was teaching me, she was my professor in teaching me that we extend humanity and compassion to those we understand the least. And she included those who are suffering the most." (© Daily Telegraph, London)