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    • Kayla Mueller was abducted by ISIS in 2013 and held captive until her 2015 death
    • Four years later, her captor and ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed
    • On Thursday, Mueller’s parents unveiled the painting in her honor in Arizona
    • ‘Into the Breach’ depicts the military raid that led to al-Baghdadi’s death last year

    The parents of ISIS victim Kayla Mueller have unveiled a painting in her honour showing the U.S. military raid that killed terror leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

    Mueller was abducted by ISIS in Syria where she was held for 18 months before her captors announced she had died in February 2015. 

    Her parents joined Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, Senator Martha McSally and Army National Guard members on stage at the Goldwater Air National Guard Base where they unveiled the painting on Thursday. 

    ‘Into the Breach’ depicts the U.S. special forces raid that led to the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2019, and was unveiled at a ceremony on Thursday

    The parents of ISIS victim Kayla Mueller, who died while being held captive by ISIS leader al-Baghdadi in 2015, joined Arizona's governor and senator on stage to unveil the painting

    The parents of ISIS victim Kayla Mueller, who died while being held captive by ISIS leader al-Baghdadi in 2015, joined Arizona’s governor and senator on stage to unveil the painting

    The event comes nearly a year after the terrorist leader al-Baghdadi – who raped Mueller while she was held captive by ISIS – was killed in a special forces raid in Syria on October 27, 2019.

    Mueller’s father – Carl Mueller – took to the stage on Thursday to thank Vice President Mike Pence who had invited he and his wife Marsha to the vice presidential debate in Salk Late City the evening before. 

    During the debate, Pence criticised Democratic candidate Joe Biden for failing to rescue Kayla Mueller from ISIS during his time in the Obama administration.

    The administration reportedly tried to rescue Mueller – along with other hostages – from the terrorist organisation on numerous occasions. 

    Mueller said they flew back to Phoenix with Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, on Air Force Two after the debate. ‘It’s been overwhelming,’ Mueller said.

    Carl Mueller told the story of how the painting came about, saying his son received a message from a friend of his who is serving in the military with a picture of the painting, titled ‘Into the Breach’.

    Members of the Air National Guard were in the attendance to view the unveiling during a ceremony on Thursday, nearly a year since the raid and death of al-Baghdadi

    Members of the Air National Guard were in the attendance to view the unveiling during a ceremony on Thursday, nearly a year since the raid and death of al-Baghdadi

    The painting featured a raid similar to the one that killed al-Baghdadi, so Mueller asked the person if he could have a copy of the painting.

    However, he was told that it had been commissioned by the 75th Ranger Regiment, who would need to give permission for it to be used.

    Mueller sought the help of another family friend who served in the military to seek out the necessary permission, which they obtained a few weeks later.

    Kayla Mueller, who was abducted by ISIS in 2013 while working in Syria for Doctors Without Borders

    The painting commemorating the raid that killed her captor al-Baghdadi was accompanied by a letter from U.S. Army Gen. Mark A. Milley

    Kayla Mueller (left) who was abducted by ISIS in 2013 while working in Syria for Doctors Without Borders. The painting commemorating the raid that killed her captor al-Baghdadi was accompanied by a letter from U.S. Army Gen. Mark A. Milley (pictured right)

    Kayla’s father then sought out the artist – Stuart Brown – who told Mueller that he would have a giclée — a high-quality digital print — made up for him. 

    ‘When I asked how much it would be, Mr. Brown said he would cover the cost of the giclée and the shipping from England,’ Mueller said. ‘As fate would have it, on Christmas Eve, it was delivered to our home in Prescott.’ 

    Governor Ducey praised Kayla Mueller for her bravery and compassion as a humanitarian and volunteer. She had been working with Doctors Without Borders when she was abducted in August 2013. 

    Parents Marsha and Carl Mueller listen during a ceremony to unveil a painting honoring Kayla Mueller at the Goldwater Air National Guard Base

    Parents Marsha and Carl Mueller listen during a ceremony to unveil a painting honoring Kayla Mueller at the Goldwater Air National Guard Base

    Marsha and Carl Mueller were invited to the Vice Presidential debate by Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday evening, held in Salt Lake City

    Marsha and Carl Mueller were invited to the Vice Presidential debate by Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday evening, held in Salt Lake City

    ‘We are here today because your daughter is revered and beloved the world over,’ Ducey said. ‘And thanks to you, her legacy will live on forever more.’

    Ducey said released captives who were with Kayla Mueller said she acted as a mother and sister to them, providing them comfort no matter how dire their circumstances. 

    ‘Kayla Mueller was a warrior in every sense,’ the governor said. ‘Comforting the anguished and serving as a light in the darkness. And even through the darkest nights of captivity, Kayla’s light grew only brighter.’ 

    On October 26, 2019, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in a raid undertaken by U.S. special forces in Syria, using helicopters, jets and drones. 

    Announcing the ISIS leader’s death, President Trump said while being hunted by military canines and after being cornered in a tunnel, al-Baghdadi detonated a suicide vest, killing himself and two children – believed to be his own. 

    The rise and fall of the Islamic State

    The Islamic State group erupted from the chaos of Syria and Iraq’s conflicts, declaring itself a ‘caliphate’ after conquering a giant stretch of territory.

    Its territorial rule, which at its height in 2014 stretched across nearly a third of both Syria and Iraq, ended in March with a last stand by several hundred of its militants at a tiny Syrian village on the banks of the Euphrates near the border with Iraq.

    But the militants have maintained a presence in both countries, and their shadowy leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had continued releasing messages urging them to keep up the fight. 

    Here are the key moments in the rise and fall of the Islamic State group:

    Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi - who was also known as Caliph Ibrahim - released a propaganda video in 2014 where he addressed Muslim worshipers at a mosque in Mosul

    Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi – who was also known as Caliph Ibrahim – released a propaganda video in 2014 where he addressed Muslim worshipers at a mosque in Mosul

    April 2013 – Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announces the merger of his group with al-Qaeda’s franchise in Syria, forming the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. 

    January 2014 – Al-Baghdadi’s forces overrun the city of Fallujah in Iraq’s western Anbar province and parts of the nearby provincial capital of Ramadi. In Syria, they seize sole control of the city of Raqqa after driving out rival Syrian rebel factions, and it becomes their de facto capital.

    February 2014 – Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri disavows al-Baghdadi after the Iraqi militant ignores his demands that IS leave Syria.

    June 2014 – IS captures Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, and pushes south as Iraqi forces crumble, eventually capturing Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit and reaching the outskirts of Baghdad. When they threaten Shiite holy sites, Iraq’s top Shiite cleric issues a call to arms, and masses of volunteers, largely backed and armed by Iran, join militias. 

    June 29, 2014 – The group renames itself the Islamic State and declares the establishment of a self-styled ‘caliphate’ in its territories in Iraq and Syria. Al-Baghdadi is declared the caliph.

    July 4, 2014 – Al-Baghdadi makes his first public appearance, delivering a Friday sermon in Mosul’s historic al-Nuri Mosque. He urges Muslims around the world to swear allegiance to the caliphate and obey him as its leader.

    August 2014 – IS captures the town of Sinjar west of Mosul and begins a systematic slaughter of the tiny Yazidi religious community. Women and girls are kidnapped as sex slaves; hundreds remain missing to this day.

    August 8, 2014 – The U.S. launches its campaign of airstrikes against IS in Iraq.

    September 22, 2014 – The U.S.-led coalition begins an aerial campaign against IS in Syria.

    January, 2015 – Iraqi Kurdish fighters, backed by U.S.-led airstrikes, drive IS out of several towns north of Mosul. In Syria, Kurdish fighters backed by U.S. airstrikes repel an IS onslaught on the town of Kobani on the border with Turkey, the first significant defeat for IS.

    April 1, 2015 – U.S.-backed Iraqi forces retake Tikrit, their first major victory against IS.

    May 20, 2015 – IS captures the ancient Syrian town of Palmyra, where the extremists later destroy archaeological treasures. 

    February 9, 2016 – Iraqi forces recapture Ramadi after months of fighting and at enormous cost, with thousands of buildings destroyed. Almost the entire population fled the city.

    June 26, 2016 – Fallujah is declared liberated by Iraqi forces after a five-week battle.

    July 3, 2016 – IS sets off a gigantic suicide truck bomb outside a Baghdad shopping mall, killing almost 300 people, the deadliest attack in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

    October 17, 2016 – Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announces the start of the operation to liberate Mosul.

    Iraqi Army soldiers celebrate as they hold an IS flag, which they captured during a raid on a village outside Mosul in November 2016

    Iraqi Army soldiers celebrate as they hold an IS flag, which they captured during a raid on a village outside Mosul in November 2016

    November 5, 2016 – The U.S.-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces launch Operation Euphrates Wrath, the first of five operations aiming to retake Raqqa, starting with an encircling of the city.

    January 24, 2017 – Al-Abadi announces eastern Mosul has been ‘fully liberated’.

    May 10, 2017 – SDF captures the strategic Tabqa dam after weeks of battles and a major airlift operation that brought SDF fighters and their U.S. advisers to the area. The fall of the dam facilitated the push on Raqqa, about 25 miles away.

    June 6, 2017 – SDF fighters begin an attack on Raqqa from three sides, backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes.

    June 18, 2017 – Iraqi forces launch battle for Mosul’s Old City, the last IS stronghold there. 

    June 21, 2017 – IS destroys Mosul’s iconic al-Nuri Mosque and its 12th century leaning minaret as Iraqi forces close in.

    July 10, 2017 – Iraqi PM declares victory over IS in Mosul and end of the extremists’ caliphate in Iraq.

    October 17, 2017 – SDF takes full control of Raqqa after months of heavy bombardment that devastates the city.

    September – December, 2017 – Syrian government forces, backed by Russian air power and Iranian forces, recapture IS territory on the western bank of the Euphrates River, seizing the cities of Deir el-Zour, Mayadin and Boukamal on the border with Iraq.  

    Isis lost its hold over Mosul in July 2017 but the city suffered severe bombing

    Isis lost its hold over Mosul in July 2017 but the city suffered severe bombing 

    August 23, 2018 – IS leader al-Baghdadi resurfaces in his first purported audio recording in almost a year; he urges followers to ‘persevere’ and continue fighting.

    September 10, 2018 – SDF launches a ground offensive, backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, to take the last territory held by IS in Syria’s eastern province of Deir el-Zour.  

    March 23, 2019 – SDF declares the complete capture of Baghouz and the end of the Islamic State group’s territorial ‘caliphate’.

    October 27, 2019 – President Donald Trump announced that al-Baghdadi was killed during a US. Special Ops forces raid on his hideout in northwest Syria. Trump said the ‘violent terror leader’ died after running into a dead-end tunnel, and detonating his suicide vest, killing himself and three of his children.

      – Source: Associated Press 

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