Jill tells her story

Jill has published the first part of the 11-part series that details her kidnapping ordeal in the Christian Science Monitor. The whole article can be viewed here.

This series also contains video interviews with her in which she expands on her ordeal. I have to admit though, there were parts in this first section that were hard for me to read. They just broke my heart into a million pieces. This is one of them:

I crawled over to Abu Hassan, the one who seemed more grown-up and sympathetic. His 9mm pistol was by his side, as usual. "You’re my brother, you’re truly my brother," I said in Arabic. "Promise me you will use this gun to kill me by your own hand. I don’t want that knife, I don’t want the knife, use the gun."

The second, third and fourth parts are now up on the site along with a huge assortment of "extras" about the event. Word is, the story is bringing record traffic to the CSM website.


  1. natasha August 19, 2006 at 9:43 am

    Dear Carol, It is great to hear from you after such a long time. Please come again. I’m not quite sure I understand what you mean by “portraying the point view of the west”. See, on my blog I mostly jot down my own thoughts and opinions that are usually influenced by who I am and by my own cultural background. Flip through the archive and you will realize that I blogged extensively about the achievement of Arabs — especially Jordanians. I talked about artists, athletes, moviemakers, authors, etc.

    Anyway, I’m really glad that you found my humble blog. Hope to see more of you around here.

    Regards …

  2. Erik Martin August 24, 2006 at 8:08 pm

    Having read Jill’s account, and watched her all interviews at csmonitor.com, I think she’s just an amazing person. She said in response to a reader question that it’s no accomplishment to get kidnapped. While that’s obviously true, I don’t think she gets it… It’s her amazing character, her idealism, her humility, her intelligence, her goodness, that just radiates from her — even in the stupid videos her captors made her make, with a person like Jill, those things just radiate out and they touch people’s hearts. That’s why all these strangers love her. And although I’m sure she doesn’t recognise it, it’s absolutely amazing the amount of insight, perception, and intelligence she exercised in managing the impressions and emotions of her captors, despite being perpetually under the fear of immediate execution.

    To me, the most moving thing in her account so far, is her description of when she started to pray. When you’ve been living the unthinkable for months, and your first words to God are, “God, thank you,” well that’s the mark of a very special person. I could go on at length. Anyway, tell Jill if you ever think of it.

    And if she ever wants to hear more about how awesome she is, feel free to give her my email! šŸ™‚

  3. Brian Ulrich August 24, 2006 at 10:19 pm

    Natasha actually has a great blackmail opportunity here. “Drop money into my bank account every Friday, or an embarrassing Jill story gets posted over the weekend.”

    By the way, I do occasionally post serious comments on blogs. This site just seems to bring out my irreverant side.

  4. Brian Ulrich August 24, 2006 at 11:33 pm

    And Erik, I think part of it is what some might consider survivor’s guilt, though I’m hesitant to psychoanalyze in a public format. War is dangerous. She went into a war, and encountered some of the danger. I’m convinced there was some ST:TNG episode about losing people under your command, but I haven’t been able to come up with it. In any case, it’s kind of a case of that, only from someone who had nothing (that I know of, anyway) to prepare her. The whole thing also changed her life in ways she never intended.

  5. Brian Ulrich August 25, 2006 at 1:40 pm

    Aha…ST dovetails nicely with Dumbledore’s talk with HP at the end of OotP, so it can’t be wrong. Jill has learned more than most people about the consequences of human fallibility. Seen objectively, had she made a different decision about the interview in Jan., none of this would have happened. This is the perfect nature of hindsight, and not available to those who lack omniscience. It’s also not to say it wouldn’t have happened later – after all, the bad guys only had to be right once, and plenty of people have fallen into their clutches – it’s individual people against a ruthless network of fighters. Still, the gap between this realization of perfectly human miscalculation that happens to be in a dangerous environment and the public accolades is undoubtedly uncomfortable. And not being omniscient, we don’t realize what disasters might have lain along other paths, so it seems our outcome is the worst.

  6. Brian Ulrich August 25, 2006 at 4:37 pm

    A little more, because I don’t know how to shut up when I get on one of these tangents, especially when the alternative is writing about Sufyanid Kufa. Feelings of guilt often don’t arise from moral culpability, but rather from actions which have results other than we expect. To say something concrete, it does not stretch credulity, to project 2-3 years down the line an Iraq with a civil war and no more media attention. Alan or the driver or somebody else could easily have been killed then, and no one would be interested in helping, leaving the families worse off than they are now. I also think of the Shi’ite family mentioned a few days ago – they could easily have been killed, but because of Jill, they are known, and they tell us something important.

    All of this is not to invoke some sort of fate or higher power (though that is one possible permutation), but merely to point out that all human actions take place in a crucible of ignorance, and all we can do is try to work within the currents as they reveal themselves, hoping that occasionally we’re the right person in the right place at the right time to serve a useful purpose. Most of the world’s great spiritual systems tough upon this theme in some manner, but it’s hard to see in the grip of emotional trauma.

  7. Roach August 26, 2006 at 8:37 pm

    I read the whole series today; it really is excellent. She comes across as a person of great humanity, with skills of observation and fairness, but without any naivite about the Jihadis.

    I agree too that those who were too quick to call her a lackey and what-not are a bunch of ghouls who lack the most basic understanding of elemental fairness.


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