Scott Pelley: Kayla Mueller was a light in the darkness

When writing home from a terrorist's cell, where do you start? Kayla Mueller started tight in the corner of her single, precious page. Her first stroke predicted there would never be enough room to hold her thoughts. Two rows on each line, margin to margin which would have been "well thought out," she writes but, "I could only but write the letter a paragraph at a time, just the thought of you all sends me into a fit of tears."

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Kayla Mueller
MUELLER FAMILY

They had all said goodbye when she left college in 2011 to work with the suffering in India. Why the hurry? Another young woman writing in captivity, Anne Frank, answered in her diary: "Nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world."

From India, Mueller worked with refugees in Israel and Palestine. Back in Arizona she cared for AIDS patients and volunteered, at night, at a women's shelter. In 2013 she arrived at the Syrian border, the world's most dangerous place. Why take the risk? Another prisoner, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., writing from a cell in 1963 answered: "I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. I'm compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home."

Like Dr. King, Kayla Mueller had the vision to see freedom from a cell.

"Even in prison I can be free," wrote Mueller. "I am grateful. I have come to see there is good in every situation."

She is the fourth American hostage to die. In journalists, ISIS tried to extinguish truth. With humanitarians, they tried to kill compassion. But light defines the darkness. In these deaths ISIS is revealed and in her words Kayla Mueller captured the long struggle for a better world, "please be patient, give your pain to God."

Anne Frank's writings became, "Diary of a Young Girl." Dr. King called his letter from a Birmingham jail the longest he ever wrote. What would Kayla Mueller have done with more than one page?

Read Kayla Mueller's full letter below

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Letter from Kayla Mueller. Mueller died while being held by ISIS in Feb. 2015.

MUELLER FAMILY

  • Scott Pelley

    Correspondent, "60 Minutes"