Report: Intelligence Community Believes Kayla Mueller Given As Bride To ISIS Fighter

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PRESCOTT, Ariz. (CBSDC/AP) — Even while being held hostage by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria extremists, Kayla Mueller found good in everything.

She taught her guards how to do crafts and make peace birds out of paper. She stood on her head for exercise in her cramped quarters. And she wrote uplifting letters home despite being a prisoner of a brutal terrorist regime.

“I have come to see that there is good in every situation, sometimes we just have to look for it,” she wrote.

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The portrait of the 26-year-old humanitarian aid worker from Prescott, Arizona, came as her death was confirmed Tuesday by the U.S. government. Family members spoke fondly of her free spirit and efforts to ease the suffering of others as a small memorial of flowers and handwritten notes took shape near a sign calling on people to “Pray for Kayla.”

It’s the same space where people in the city of about 40,000 gathered not too long ago to honor 19 Prescott-based members of an elite fire crew who died in 2013 in the deadliest single day for firefighters since Sept. 11, 2011.

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Mueller was captured in August 2013, but her captivity had largely been kept secret in an effort to save her. President Barack Obama said a military operation last summer to recover Mueller and others failed when rescuers arrived only “a day or two” after the group had been moved.

Arizona Sen. John McCain and Rep. Paul Gosar, a Republican who represents Prescott, were in close contact with the family and government officials throughout the ordeal, with the senator traveling to Syria at one point to meet with members of the army fighting President Bashar Assad.

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Gosar told The Arizona Republic that one effort to free Mueller involved a man who traveled to the Syrian prison camp where Mueller was being held. The man told the captors he was Mueller’s husband in a ruse designed to free her, Gosar said, but it didn’t work. The Republic reports that Mueller denied having a husband.

In addition, Gosar’s office said the name of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani scientist convicted of shooting at two U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, came up in discussions with ISIS over Mueller. Siddiqui is an American-educated woman whose release has long been sought by terrorists.

CBS News reports that the U.S. intelligence community believes that Mueller was given as a bride to an ISIS fighter. Read the rest of this entry »


Boehner Survives Revolt, GOP Begins 2015 With Anti-Conservative, Weakened Leadership

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WASHINGTON—House Republicans re-elected John Boehner (R., Ohio) for a third term as House speaker on Tuesday over the objections of a band of frustrated conservatives lobbying for a new leader.

Senior Republicans expressed some frustration that internal GOP dissent was grabbing the headlines on the first day of the 114th Congress.

Mr. Boehner, 65 years old, faced more opposition from his party’s right flank than in years past, but not enough to oust him from the House’s top post. After being selected among House Republicans for the post in November, he was officially re-elected in a floor roll-call vote, as the new Congress—now fully controlled by Republicans—convened on Tuesday.

Conservatives defecting from Mr. Boehner said they objected to how he ran the House, faulting him for hashing out too many deals behind closed doors and not giving lawmakers enough time to read legislation before voting.

Even some of the most conservative House Republicans voted for Mr. Boehner, citing the party’s victories in last fall’s midterm election that gave the GOP control of the Senate and expanded the House’s Republican majority.

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Members of the House of Representatives at the opening session of the 114th Congress in Washington on Tuesday. Associated Press

“I’ve had my differences with the speaker, but I plan to support him,” Rep. John Fleming (R., La.) said before the vote. “He led us through a period where we’ve increased our majority, substantially.”

In November’s midterm election, House Republicans won 247 seats, their largest majority in decades. After the resignation of Rep. Michael Grimm (R., N.Y.), effective Monday, Republicans control 246 of the chamber’s 435 seats. Read the rest of this entry »