The Jill Carroll Story – Part 1: The kidnapping
(Page 5 of 5)
Then we drove to the second house, which appeared to be the home of one of the kidnappers, who'd given his name as Abu Rasha.Skip to next paragraph
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They took me upstairs to the master bedroom. Within a few minutes an interpreter arrived, and an interrogation began.
They wanted to know my name, the name of my newspaper, my religion, how much my computer was worth, did it have a device to signal the government or military, if I or anyone in my family drank alcohol, how many American reporters were in Baghdad, did I know reporters from other countries, and myriad other questions.
Then, in a slightly gravelly voice, the interpreter explained the situation.
"You are our sister. We have no problem with you. Our problem is with your government. We just need to keep you for some time. We want women freed from Abu Ghraib prison. Maybe four or five women. We want to ask your government for this," the interpreter said. (At the time, it was reported that 10 Iraqi women were among 14,000 Iraqis being held by coalition forces on suspicion of insurgent activity.)
"You are to stay in this room. And this window, don't put one hand on this window," he continued. "I have a place underground. It is very dark and small, and cold, and if you put one hand on this window, we will put you there. Some of my friends said we should put you there, but I said, 'No she is a woman.' Women are very important in Islam."
After that they fed me from a platter of chicken and rice that would have been fit for an honored guest. And I was invited downstairs to watch television with Abu Rasha's family.
That's when we'd watched Oprah. Afterward, Abu Rasha asked me what I liked to eat for breakfast, and what time I had it. It was part of this pattern – they all seemed concerned that I think they were good, or at least that they were treating me well.
It sounds hospitable. But in my mind every second was a test – the choice of food, TV program, everything – and they would kill me if I gave the wrong answer.
Eventually I told them I wanted to sleep, and they led me upstairs. I lay in bed, on the far side away from the window. The clock was ticking loudly, and then it started to rain. I love rain, and I thought, oh, maybe this is a good sign.
But I'd been performing all day, holding in my emotions, and with darkness they came flooding back.
"Oh my God. They killed Alan." A tide of emotion was racing toward me. It was going to drown me or send me flinging myself against the walls in anger and screams. I had to stop it.
"I cannot grieve now. I cannot do this now. I have to put it away," I thought.
I looked up into the darkness of the ceiling toward Alan. "I'm sorry," I told him. "I'll take care of you later." I felt disloyal. I thought to survive, I had to push aside the memory of his brutal murder. But I knew that at some point I'd have to come to terms with the guilt I felt for his death.
As night fell, I wondered if my friends had heard. I knew that by this point Alan's family, his wife, Fairuz, was realizing the worst.
"Well, now they must know," I thought. "It's dark. He hasn't come home. They must be screaming. Fairuz must be screaming."
Alan Enwiya is one of nearly 100 journalists and media assistants killed in Iraq since March 2003. Alan is survived by his wife, Fairuz, his two children, Martin and Mary Ann, and his parents.
In response to readers, the Monitor has set up a fund to help support Alan's family and to enable them to start a new life in the US, where they have relatives.
Donations may be sent to:
The Alan Enwiya Fund
c/o The Christian Science Monitor
One Norway Street
Boston, MA 02115
Next chapter: A spy with a homing device.