Kayla Mueller's dad tells 'Today' show: Policy trumped lives

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
Mueller's family released a copy of an unpublished letter (with transcription) Kayla wrote to her loved ones in the Spring of 2014, while in captivity. By Courtesy Mueller Family Mueller's family released a copy of an unpublished letter (with transcription) Kayla wrote to her loved ones in the Spring of 2014, while in captivity. By Courtesy Mueller Family
Mueller's family released a copy of an unpublished letter (with transcription) Kayla wrote to her loved ones in the Spring of 2014, while in captivity. By Courtesy Mueller Family Mueller's family released a copy of an unpublished letter (with transcription) Kayla wrote to her loved ones in the Spring of 2014, while in captivity. By Courtesy Mueller Family

PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) -- The father of Kayla Mueller, the American woman killed after spending months in captivity under Islamic State militants, says the U.S. government "put policy in front of" American lives.

"We understand the policy about not paying ransom but on the other hand ... we tried and we asked. But they put policy in front of American citizens' lives," Carl Mueller told NBC's "Today" show in an interview that will air Monday.

Carl Mueller said he is sure the government will work on somehow changing policy.

"Any parents out there would understand that you would want anything and everything done to bring your child home," he said.

In the interview with "Today" host Savannah Guthrie, Mueller's mother, Marsha, agreed with her husband. She said she believes the U.S. government hoped to do everything possible to get her daughter back.

"I think they wanted to but I think again, the policy and I don't think anyone had any idea how this group would be as powerful as they were," Marsha Mueller said.

Mueller's brother, Eric Mueller, also spoke with Guthrie.

He said says her situation worsened after the United States traded five Taliban commanders for a captive U.S. soldier. He told "Today" that the militants' demands got greater after the May swap for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Eric Mueller says that's when the militants "realized they had something."

A spokesperson for the family did not immediately respond Sunday to a request for comment. The family has declined repeated requests for an interview from The Associated Press.

Mueller's death was confirmed Feb. 10 by her family and U.S. officials. The Islamic State group claimed she died in a Jordanian airstrike, but U.S. officials have not confirmed that. The Pentagon said it didn't know how she was killed.

The 26-year-old international aid worker, who grew up in Prescott, Arizona, was taken in August 2013 after leaving a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Aleppo, Syria.

She has been honored in the past week with memorials in her hometown and her alma mater in Flagstaff, Northern Arizona University.

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