The family of Kayla Mueller, a 26-year-old American woman who died earlier this month as a captive of the Islamic State, said the U.S. government’s decision to trade Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban prisoners “emboldened” the Islamic terrorists holding their daughter.
Bergdahl — who many allege deserted his post before being captured by the Taliban in 2009 — was released in May 2014 in return for five top Taliban officials held at Guantanamo Bay.
Critics of the swap said the deal would encourage Islamic terrorists to pursue American hostages and seek higher ransoms — something the Mueller family says they experienced firsthand.
“It made the whole situation worse,” Kayla’s brother told NBC Today show host Savannah Guthrie. “Because that’s when the demands got greater, they got larger. They realized that they had something. They realized that, ‘Well if they’re going to let five people go for one person, why won’t they do this, or why won’t they do that?’”
“They were very emboldened by that move,” Kayla’s father agreed. “And they let us know.”
“Even in some of our communications, they said, ‘They just traded five-for-one, we want one-for-one,’ which was the trade for Aafia Siddiqui,” he later said, explaining the Islamic State’s reasoning. Siddiqui is a former al-Qaeda courier and financier now held in a federal prison in Texas.