Hostage: The Jill Carroll Story – Part 7: False hopes
(Page 2 of 3)
Access to sunlight became the most important new benefit, though. It poured into the sparse sitting room where my guards slept and where we all ate.Skip to next paragraph
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I was desperate for light after painful days in dim rooms in the Abu Ghraib house with my now-departed female minder, Um Ali. I had been handed off to a different cell under Abu Nour, to a different set of guards.
One of the guards at this new house, who had himself spent time in prison, seemed to understand the way I felt. One morning before breakfast, he tied back the thin curtains.
"Sun," he said smiling and gesturing at the bright streams pouring in through the etched glass windows.
I sat on the ground in the sunbeam and closed my eyes. It penetrated my eyelids and warmed my face.
• • •
By this point, I had learned much about the way the mujahideen operated. To me, at least, some of their tactics were surprisingly clever.
Take transportation. Men with beards, and cars with only one or two men, drew too much attention from patrols and at checkpoints. So they shaved their beards and drove around as families, kids and women included. They played Shiite music. As insurgents, they knew how to not look like an insurgent.
They have the home-field advantage. As Abu Nour, the leader, told me more than once: "I can go out, plant my bomb, and go back and have a homemade dinner with my wife. What are American soldiers going to do? They go back [to their base] and do not have good food or get to see their family."
Abu Nour ("Ink Eyes") began coming to see me almost every day. Clearly, he felt freer to visit the clubhouse than the other places I'd been held. It was during one of these visits that he'd mentioned Margaret Hassan, and I'd hysterically begged for the guards to use a gun to kill me, not a knife.
At the clubhouse, he also appeared eager to have me "interview" him. He seemed to have begun to view me as a messenger – an idea I had been pushing, hoping it would give them a reason to set me free.
My hands always shook when I did these "interviews." Like all interactions with my captors, they felt like mine fields, or chess games.
Among other things, Abu Nour said that some people joined the mujahideen because they were angry about the treatment of prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison or raids on their homes at night. Many enlisted following a battle they considered a great victory – the April 2004 fight for Fallujah, a city west of Baghdad in the Anbar Province.
Abu Nour added that too many of these new recruits had impure motives. That, he said, is why they lost Fallujah to US forces in November 2004.
"A good mujahid enters the war so [that] if he dies he goes to heaven," Abu Nour insisted.
Secular insurgents were useful allies, but wouldn't be allowed to take part in the Iraqi government after the mujahideen's final victory, he said. Sunni politicians participating in the current US-backed government were traitors to Islam and should be killed.
My captors would laugh, for example, when Adnan al-Dulaimi would appear on TV – either when he was pleading for my release or as part of a group of politicians trying to form a new government. I had gone to interview Mr. Dulaimi when they seized me in front of his political headquarters in Baghdad.
[In a press conference on Jan. 20, Dulaimi said: "By kidnapping her, you are insulting me. You're insulting the work that I've been doing for Iraq.... release her...." Nine days later he issued another tearful public appeal for Jill's release, which was featured in the Monitor's Iraqi media campaign in February and March.]
"Look, Jill. Ha, ha. There's your 'friend' Dulaimi," they scoffed each time he appeared. "Oh, please, please free Jill! Ha, ha, ha, ha." They mocked him.
Within minutes of my capture, I had suspected Dulaimi, the head of the Iraqi Accordance Front, a Sunni political party. The kidnappers were waiting for us when we left his office. They must have known about my appointment ahead of time.
During one of these talks at the "clubhouse," Abu Nour said that Dulaimi had been to see him that week. Dulaimi had begged Ink Eyes to let me go. Later, the guards told me that Dulaimi had been back again. Dulaimi said, "Please, please let her go. The [US] soldiers are threatening to arrest my sons. Tell me where Jill is. Let her go."