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Trump honors Arizona’s Kayla Mueller during State of the Union speech

(AP Photo/The Daily Courier, Matt Hinshaw)

PHOENIX — An Arizona humanitarian who was captured and later killed by terrorists in Syria in 2015 was honored during President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday.

Trump devoted a portion of the speech to tell the story of Prescott’s Kayla Mueller, who had been held hostage by ISIS leader Abu Bakr-al-Baghdadi since 2013 before her death two years later.

The U.S. military mission that led to the death of al-Baghdadi in October 2019 was named after Arizona’s Mueller, who was 26 years old when she passed away.

“On the night that United States Special Forces Operators ended al‑Baghdadi’s miserable life, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, received a call in the Situation Room,” Trump said. “He was told that the brave men of the elite Special Forces team, that so perfectly carried out the operation, had given their mission a name — ‘Task Force 8-14.’

“It was a reference to a special day: August 14th — Kayla’s birthday. Carl and Marsha, America’s warriors never forgot Kayla — and neither will we.”

Carl and Marsha, Mueller’s parents, were in attendance for the speech.

Trump had previously spoken of Mueller during his announcement of al-Baghdadi’s death.

“He kept her in captivity for a long period of time; he kept her in captivity, his personal captivity. She was a beautiful woman, beautiful young woman, helped people. She was there to help people,” Trump said.

Kayla Mueller was posthumously awarded the McCain Institute’s Award for Courage and Leadership in November 2017.

Carl and Marsha accepted the award at a ceremony in New York City.

Mueller was working for an non-governmental organization in Turkey that supported Syrian refugees before she was taken hostage.

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