The mother of slain US aid worker Kayla Mueller testified at the trial of an alleged ISIS captor that the family sent a personal plea to the terror group’s leader in a desperate attempt to secure her release.
Marsha Mueller revealed that the family sent a video message to her daughter’s captors, as she took the stand against El Shafee Elsheikh, a 33-year-old former British national, on Tuesday.
“Kayla is not your enemy. Show your mercy and release our daughter,” Marsha said in the video message.
Her emotional testimony came on the fifth day of the trial in US federal court in Alexandria, Virginia.
Elsheikh, an alleged member of the British-born ISIS executioners dubbed “The Beatles,” is accused of involvement in the murders of Mueller and three other Americans, fellow aid worker Peter Kassig and journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff.
Occasionally wiping tears from her eyes, Marsha recalled how her daughter had worked at an orphanage in India and taught English to Tibetan refugees in Dharamsala before going to Syria, according to Agence France-Presse.
“She was always interested in helping people,” she said.
Her daughter was captured by ISIS in August 2013 while accompanying her boyfriend, Syrian national Rodwan Safarjalani, on a trip to a hospital in Aleppo where he was contracted to repair a satellite dish.
Marsha testified about email exchanges with her daughter’s captors, who were demanding a ransom of 5 million euros or the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani woman who is imprisoned in the US for the attempted murder of American soldiers.
“We don’t want to harm her,” the hostage-takers reportedly told the family in a May 2014 email. “She is like a guest with us at the moment.”
But they warned that if their demands were not met, Kayla would serve “a life sentence just like Siddiqui.”
The Muellers told the kidnappers they were asking for “an astronomical amount of money from a family with limited resources.”
In one email, the family said Kayla’s father, Carl Mueller, had retired from an auto repair business he ran in Prescott, Arizona, but the terrorist replied: “Retiring will not help you get your daughter back so go back to work and earn some money.”
Marsha said the US government told the family that the captors “will not harm a woman,” but they decided to make a personal appeal to then-ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
It has been reported that Kayla was handed over to Baghdadi, who allegedly raped her repeatedly before killing her.
In February 2015, ISIS claimed that Kayla had been killed in an airstrike by Jordanian warplanes.
During a break in Tuesday’s court session, Safarjalani approached Elsheikh as he was being led out by US Marshals and shouted at him in Arabic that he would end up in hell.
Judge T.S. Ellis warned him that he would be thrown out if there was another outburst, adding that he was allowing him to remain in the courtroom because he had only made a “prediction” and not a “threat.”
Elsheikh and terrorist pal Alexenda Kotey — another member of “The Beatles” — were captured together and brought to Virginia to face trial. Kotey pleaded guilty last year and received a life sentence, avoiding the death penalty.
A third Beatle, Mohammed Emwazi, served as executioner in the video of Foley’s execution. He was killed in a drone strike.
Elsheikh’s defense attorneys claim there is insufficient evidence to prove he was a member of the group that took part in the hostage-taking scheme.
Prosecutors plan to present evidence that Elsheikh confessed to his role in interviews with authorities and the media.