Hostage video ignites wide call to free Carroll

Wednesday, the umbrella group for a number of leading Sunni clerics condemned the Jan. 7 kidnapping

Calls for the release of kidnapped journalist Jill Carroll poured in from around the world on Wednesday following the broadcast of a brief video showing her in captivity.

Those calling upon her abductors in Iraq to show mercy included senior members of the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo, and some of Iraq's most influential Sunni Arab leaders, including Adnan al-Dulaimi, head of the Iraqi Accordance Front.

Ms. Carroll was abducted in Baghdad on Jan. 7, about 300 yards from Dr. Dulaimi's office. She had intended to meet with him that morning.

Kidnapping is un-Islamic, Dr. Dulaimi said Wednesday. "Publish this statement on my behalf condemning this act, although it's going to expose me to danger," he said by telephone from Kuwait, where he was attending the funeral of Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmed al- Sabah, the country's late leader.

"We reject this act. It is absolutely condemned. We will do as much as possible to release Jill," said Dr. Dulaimi.

In a video delivered to Al Jazeera and broadcast on Tuesday, Ms. Carroll's kidnappers said that they would kill her on Friday unless US military authorities released all Iraqi women in their custody.

Al Jazeera declined to say how the tape came into its custody. However, the network did issue a statement calling for Carroll's release.

The tape showed Ms. Carroll speaking, although Al Jazeera did not broadcast the sound of her voice. She looked tired, but otherwise healthy.

Though no group has explicitly claimed responsibility for Carroll's abduction, a still photograph taken from the broadcast video showed the words "Brigade of Revenge."

Carroll was working as a freelancer for the Monitor when she was abducted by gunmen in Baghdad on the morning of Jan. 7. Her driver escaped, but her interpreter, Allan Enwiyah, was killed.

Over the last three years some 400 foreigners have been kidnapped in Iraq. Of these, 35 were media workers, according to Reporters Without Borders.

Five kidnapped journalists - four Iraqis, and one Italian - were killed by their abductors, according to the press freedom group. The others were released.

Only one Western woman is thought to have been murdered by captors. Margaret Hassan, an Irish aid worker and longtime resident of Iraq (who held Iraqi citizenship), was killed following her abduction in late 2004.

A call for the release of female prisoners in US military custody is a common demand made by Iraqi kidnappers. On Wednesday, US officials in Iraq said that coalition forces were holding eight women among some 14,000 detainees.

In Cairo the Muslim Brotherhood issued a statement saying that Carroll - as well as other journalists - should not be targeted by insurgents.

"We call upon the brothers in the Iraqi resistance not to target media workers," said the statement. "This contradicts the principles of our religion and doesn't help the cause of liberating the country".

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood is the most powerful Islamist opposition group in the Arab world, and it has affiliations with Islamic political parties and organizations throughout the region.

The Al Zamman newspaper in Iraq is condemning the kidnapping in Thursday's edition, as did some other Middle East papers.

Also condemning the kidnapping and threats against Jill was Muthana Harith al-Dari, a leader of Iraq's Muslim Scholars Association, an umbrella group for a number of leading Sunni clerics, or Ulama.

Mr. Dari said kidnapping is always wrong and called for Jill's immediate release.

"All kidnappings and assassinations are completely rejected... especially when kidnapping a journalist. Journalists are here to tell the world about the occupation so kidnapping a journalist is going to hide the truth," Dari, who acts as the association's spokesman, told Al Sharqiya television in Iraq.

In the United States, her family appealed for mercy. Her father, Jim Carroll, issued a statement in which he called his daughter "an innocent journalist."

Jill Carroll moved to the Middle East to bear witness to an extraordinary time in the region's history.

She has learned the language, cultivated friends, and immersed herself in the culture to a degree perhaps unusual in the transient world of foreign correspondents.

Friends and former colleagues say she has been doing a great service to Iraqis and the world at large by trying to convey complicated reality - and that her kidnapping thus does not really serve any group's interest.

"She's extremely interested in getting the facts about the Arab world. She did a tremendous job in her reporting portraying a true picture of what was going on in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East," says Ayman Safadi, Ms. Carroll's former editor at the Jordan Times, and currently editor of Al Ghad newspaper in Amman.

Rana Husseini, a Jordan Times reporter and friend of Carroll's, says that she was shocked by the kidnapping, and hopes Carroll will return safely. Carroll used to come to her house for meals, and came and sat with her in the hospital when she was ill, says Ms. Husseini.

"What these people did does not serve the Iraqi cause," says Husseini.

From a leading Sunni Muslim cleric in Iraq

Muthana Harith al-Dari, a leader of Iraq's Muslim Scholars Association, an umbrella group for a number of leading Sunni clerics, condemned the Jan. 7 kidnapping of freelance journalist Jill Carroll Wednesday.

"All kidnappings and assassinations are completely rejected," he said, "... especially when kidnapping a journalist. Journalists are here to tell the world about the occupation, so kidnapping a journalist is going to hide the truth,'' Mr. Dari, who acts as the association's spokesman, told Al Sharqiya television in Iraq.

"This journalist, Jill Carroll ... is one of the great journalists who are against the occupation. She is considered one of the best journalists who stood against the American occupation of Iraq and she focused in her articles on ... telling the world about the Iraqi people's suffering."

Staff writer Dan Murphy contributed from Baghdad.

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