(CNN) – ISIS claims an American woman that was held hostage is dead, killed by a bomb dropped by a Jordanian warplane.
A picture of a collapsed building, the only image offered by ISIS to illustrate its disturbing claim.
The group says a Jordanian airstrike on this building in the Syrian city of Raqqa killed 26-year-old Kayla Mueller, an American woman it had held hostage for a year-and-a-half. ISIS does not show Mueller and offers no proof of its claim.
US officials tell CNN they can’t corroborate it. Jordan’s interior minister calls it a “low PR stunt”. There are strong reasons for skepticism that Mueller died from a Jordanian bomb.
Aki Peritz, former CIA counterterrorism analyst said, “There are coalition airstrikes going on every day and how are they supposed to ascertain that a Jordanian plane actually dropped a bomb to destroy this building?”
Another point of doubt: the claim by ISIS that Mueller was alone in the building and no one else was hurt.
“I’m extremely skeptical of this. As you can see this is a multi-story building. Other buildings have been flattened. And she was the only person who was killed in this supposed airstrike? The fact that there were no guards, no passer-bys, nobody who was even injured except for her suggests that it doesn’t pass the smell test,” said Peritz.
Why would ISIS make the claim now? It comes just three-days after ISIS released a shocking video showing its militants burning a Jordanian pilot to death, just hours after Jordan responded to that with a series of stepped-up airstrikes against ISIS.
If ISIS had already killed Kayla Mueller, this claim is a way to avoid the kind of backlash ISIS has gotten for burning the pilot.
“If she was actually killed by the organization prior to this current announcement, it’s very convenient for the organization because they were- they could get rid of an inconvenient hostage and they could have driven a wedge between the Jordanians and the Americans,” said Peritz.
A ploy which analysts say likely won’t work.
“Even if somehow it was a Jordanian aircraft that injured a western hostage or killed a western hostage, it wasn’t Jordan’s fault. Jordan was trying to help in a campaign to defeat one of the most brutal and ruthless organizations on the planet,” said Michael O’Hanlon of Brookings Institution.