All it takes is 10 seconds to see Kayla Mueller’s distress.
In a hostage video released to ABC News, a black hijab-wearing Mueller appears on the screen from the chest up.
“My name is Kayla Mueller. I need your help,” she says. “I’ve been here too long and I’ve been very sick and it’s it’s very terrifying here.”
The exact orientation of “here” is unknown but what is known is that she is being held captive by ISIS terrorists.
Mueller, a 25-year-old humanitarian aid worker for Doctors Without Borders was abducted by ISIS terrorists in Syria in Aug. 4, 2013 before she was killed two years later.
The short-clip will air during 20/20’s segment entitled “The Girl Left Behind” on Aug. 26 and is the first post-abduction appearance of Mueller to be made public. Its release comes nearly three years since the Mueller family received the video to their Prescott, Arizona home, on Aug. 30, 2013.
“You just go into almost a catatonic state, I think. You can’t even stand up,” Carl Mueller told ABC News to describe the emotions he felt when he first watched the video.
Mueller doesn’t look like herself in the clip—she appeared to have lost weight. But mother Marsha Mueller still sees fragments of her daughter.
“I saw how thin she looked, but I saw that her eyes were very clear and steady,” said her mother, Marsha. “It broke my heart, but I also saw her strength.”
According to Chris Voss, a retired FBI chief hostage negotiator, the proof-of-life video of Mueller in seemingly good health, served as an olive branch to the Mueller family.
“This is an opening offer. This is, ‘We want to talk,'” Voss told ABC News. “They probably rehearsed that a number of times. I would imagine they shot that anywhere from no less than five times, maybe as many as 15 times. They rehearsed her.”
He continued, “They got the lighting right. They controlled what’s in the background. They controlled everything they said. Everything she said. They want to put enough out there without raising the threat level. They want to put enough out there to start a negotiation. And that’s what this is intended to do.”
The Mueller family had hoped that non governmental aid groups—NGO Forum, Danish Refugee Council, Support to Life—would offer assistance to bring Kayla home. However, limited resources and inexperienced hostage negotiators proved futile.
Negotiations began on May 23, 2014, 10 months after Kayla’s capture. Nearly a week later the Mueller family received a glimmer of hope of life in a form of an audio clip of Kayla’s voice.
“Mom and Dad, I still am remaining healthy. You should have already received the three answers to the proof life questions you provided. Those detaining me are demanding an exchange of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui’s release for my release. If this is not achievable, they are demanding 5 million euros to ensure my release,” she said, before she abruptly said “goodbye.”
This would be the last time the Muellers would hear from their daughter.