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Operation Kayla Mueller

“Operation Kayla Mueller”

“I have been shown in darkness, light, and have learned even in prison, one can be free.” Kayla Mueller

“Somebody will take his place.” Delfin Lorenzana, defense secretary of the Philippines

“Not a big deal, You just killed your own creation”. Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi, Information Minister of Iran.

Oftentimes there is simply more going on at the heart of an important story, much more than meets the eye. This is the case this week as we take a unique look at “Operation Kayla Mueller,” the special operations raid on the compound of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. I rarely feel compelled to write on events just as they are unfolding, but upon hearing of this significant story I knew immediately that I would address it this week.

I’d like to introduce you to Kayla Mueller. We will take a look at her gruesome last few months on earth along with her death. I also desire for us to celebrate her life as a sister who knew full well the consequences of her choices. She was not naively walking into situations without understanding her decisions. She calculated the costs of giving up her life for the sake of others. She chose the risk of death, rather than the illusion of safety and comfort. I’ve known other “Kaylas” in my life. The world is not worthy of them. I write this week’s digest in honor of Kayla Mueller.

“Operation Kayla Mueller” resulted in the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS. Though tragic, the world is in a better place because of it.  In addition to his death, another violent figure was also brought to justice in a completely separate raid carried out by a Kurdish/US military action. The man they killed was widely understood to be second in command of ISIS and thought to be Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s natural successor. His death could throw ISIS into chaos as there is not another person with the respect and clout to keep ISIS unified as a movement.

One thing is for certain, ISIS will not just go away because their two top leaders are dead. There will be interesting days ahead as the ISIS leadership will try to consolidate its power around a charismatic replacement leader. My fear is that they will begin a process of widespread attacks to prove to the Western nations and to al Qaeda that they are not out of the game and will not be underestimated.


Who is Kayla Mueller?

Kayla Mueller was a 26-year-old from Prescott, Arizona, in the United States. She was compelled by a deep desire to provide relief to the suffering civilians in war-torn Syria. She travelled to the Syrian-Turkish border in December 2012. She joined up with a humanitarian organization called Danish Refugee Council and Support to life.  Kayla had a habit of giving her life for the sake of others. She was a Christian with a long list of volunteer service abroad, from the West Bank and Israel to northern India, where she gave English classes to Tibetan refugees. She also worked at a women’s shelter and HIV/AIDS clinic in her home state of Arizona. Kayla was no stranger to serving others.

Kayla was kidnapped by ISIS near the Syrian city of Aleppo on August 3rd, 2013. She was taken into captivity, a trial that lasted for the next 18 months. Kayla was kept in solitary confinement. She was tortured. She was brutally intimidated. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi himself raped her repeatedly before allegedly killing her.

During Kayla’s captivity she wrote, “The thought of your pain is the source of my own, simultaneously the hope of our reunion is the source of my strength.” Even during her imprisonment she was thinking of others. 

ISIS attempted to blame Kayla’s murder on Jordanian warplanes in February of 2015. In an interview with Carl Mueller, Kayla’s dad, he stated, “We learned from women that were ransomed out by their governments that she said she was held in many cold, dark places, she was raped by al-Baghdadi, we know that to be a fact.” She was murdered by him or someone in his organization.  In February 2015, US officials confirmed that Kayla Mueller had died while in the custody of ISIS, but her body has yet to be recovered. 

The death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi took over ISIS after his predecessor, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi was killed in 2010.  This week Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi detonated a suicide vest, killing himself and three of his children when US Special Operations forces entered a compound in northern Syria where he was located, according to a US defense official. No US Special Operations forces were killed in the raid.

The compound where Baghdadi was staying was located near the Turkish border in northwest Syria’s Idlib Province, a known terrorist stronghold that has served as home to groups linked to al-Qaeda. Al-Baghdadi had long been suspected to be hiding in the Idlib Province. Al-Baghdadi reportedly had a $25 million bounty on his head. 

The covert operation started around 5 p.m. on Saturday evening as eight helicopters carrying teams of elite US troops, including Delta Force operators, flew exactly one hour and ten minutes over “dangerous territory” towards the compound in northern Syria where Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was located. Incidentally, the word “covert” was misused in this CNN report. It actually has legal implications in US foreign policy. According to National Security Act Sec. 503 (e), covert action is, “An activity or activities of the United States Government to influence political, economic, or military conditions abroad, where it is intended that the role of the United States government will not be apparent or acknowledged publicly.”

“Words mean things,” which is why digests such as “More than Meets the Eye” are needed. Writers are not doing their due diligence. This operation was never intended to be deniable. There are many sources for the details of this raid. I won’t rehash them here. You can be sure that just like the Osama bin Laden raid, it was carried out in precision-like fashion and the professionalism of US Special Operators once again demonstrated the power of their role. 

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s successor?

Based on Kurdish Intelligence, hours after the raid that killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in northwestern Syria, one of his closest aides and most probable successors was killed as well. The death of Abu Hassan al-Muhajir will be a significant blow to the successorship of ISIS leadership. It is difficult to even begin to describe the impact of these two deaths on ISIS. The future will be most unstable as younger leaders, often more violent, unstable and radical vie for prominent roles within the leadership of the terrorist organization.

It is my opinion (along with Bruce Hoffman), that there will be a spate of terrorist attacks as each of these different leaders representing opposing factions within ISIS will attempt to establish their own brand of ISIS and their ability to carry out the agendas of ISIS at will. They will compete with one another through the operationalization of violent attacks against soft targets and they will vie for the leadership roles much the way that gangs and mafia-like organizations do, now that al-Baghdadi is gone.


Why is this topic so relevant to us today? The life of Kayla Mueller is testimony to all of us of a life well-lived. She died like she lived, by giving herself away. It is important to state over and over again, Kayla did not have her life taken from her by wicked men. She had already given her life to serve others in the fashion of Jesus Christ before she ever went to Syria. 

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi looked into the face of love and rejected it. He has reaped what he has sown, just like you and I will reap what we sow. Let’s sow seeds in the manner of Kayla Mueller.


Let’s allow the life of Kayla Mueller to become a model for our own. We must make a habit of giving ourselves for the sake of others, not merely looking out for our own good.

There are so many opportunities today for which we can give our lives. Here are a few I have vetted. 

  1. Global Hope…
  2. MedGlobal…
  3. Relief International…
  4. Mercy Corps…
  5. Save the Children…

The follow-up.

Pakistan May Be Stumbling Toward a Two-Front War…

Managing Iran’s Actions to Avoid Collapse of Global Economy…

The feed-back.

For your comments or questions about any of our digests please feel free to write to me at:


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