Posts in Jill Carroll

Hope renewed

I was thrilled to hear the news about the release of the peace activists in Iraq. Of course this has renewed my hope that Jill’s turn will be next. Meanwhile, a US military spokesmen spoke of the ongoing rescue operations in Iraq:

A US military spokesman says a raid to free three Christian peace activists in Iraq may lead to other hostage rescue "operations." Major General Rick Lynch says the operations will "probably" be a result of what investigators are learning now. When asked about freelance journalist Jill Carroll, Lynch says he has no information he can discuss. Except for videotapes delivered to Arab TV outlets, Carroll hasn’t been seen since she was kidnapped in Baghdad in January.

Source: [AP via WISTV ]

Photos of Iraq hostages unveiled in Paris square

Kudos to Reporters Without Borders. The group deserves real recognition for their continuing efforts to highlight the plight of Jill and the other journalists that have been kidnapped in Iraq. Yesterday in Paris, on the third anniversary of the Iraq war, the organization held a ceremony and issued the following statement:

Paris posters are unveiledOn the third anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq, Reporters Without Borders today paid tribute to the 86 journalists and media assistants who have lost there lives there in the past three years, and it participated in a ceremony in which large photos of the three journalists currently held hostage in Iraq — Jill Carroll, Reem Zeid and Marwan Khazaal — were displayed in a central Paris square.
Source: [RSF]

Iraqi interior minister: Jill is alive

Jill_amman_5Iraqi Interior Minister Bayan Jabr told the Associated Press in an exclusive interview that Jill is still alive. Here is an excerpt:

Kidnapped Christian Science Monitor reporter Jill Carroll was still alive and being moved from place to place by her captors. He would say nothing more about the case.
Source: [Aljazeera.net]

For all those who care about Jill, please keep praying and special thanks goes out to WM for providing me with the link.

Bloggers campaign for Jill

The Committee to Protect Bloggers is campaigning for Jill. They are asking bloggers to post a link of Jill’s video that is running on Iraqi stations and calling for her release. Here is the post from the Committee to Protect Bloggers.

Jill Carroll, a freelance reporter working for the Christian Science Monitor newspaper, was kidnapped in Baghdad over two months ago. All indications are that she is still alive. The Monitor has started a campaign, using Iraqi television, to distribute a video asking for Iraqis to help find and free Jill.

Jill is not a blogger but she’s got that spirit. She’s an independent intellect who is fascinated by the world and has a desire to speak what she sees. So let’s not leave it up to the newspapers and television stations. She’s ours as much as theirs.

So, I would like to ask every blogger who gives a damn about individual human life and the individual human voice, to post a link to this video on their blog, to blog about Jill and to pass along our concern to friends, family and other bloggers. Of greatest import are Iraqi blogs and blogs in the Arabic and Muslim worlds that may be read by people in a position to do good for Jill.

Remembering Allan

The Christian Science Monitor has a moving feature on Allan Enwiyah, Jill’s interpreter who was killed during her kidnapping. Here is an excerpt:

Allan Enwiyah I worked with Allan while on a stint in Iraq in December, just before the national elections. During those weeks, I came to know an easygoing young man who took his job seriously, but who liked to gossip, always good-naturedly, about Iraqi politicians or international stars. He dressed nattily – crisp jeans and a sport shirt or T-shirt that looked more Western than Iraqi. And while he was interested enough in the politics of what then was an Iraq deep in campaign mode, he saved his passion for his young family.

I had known other interpreters during my stints in Iraq who seemed to use the job to escape their families and those duties, but clearly for Allan, the job — as interesting as it was to him — was a means to an end. He was not a daredevil, not even really a newshound. Which somehow makes his death all the more tragic.

Tomorrow, Jill will have been held captive for two whole months. To her kidnappers I say: Please, have some mercy! Set this innocent reporter and wonderful human being free. Enough is enough!

Islamic Army said to be holding Jill

An Iraqi official said Tuesday that a group calling itself the "Islamic Army" is actually holding Jill. The name of this group differs from the name seen in previous tapes released by the kidnappers. In those tapes the kidnappers were identified as the "Revenge Brigades." This might mean that Jill was moved/sold by one group to another or it might not. Sigh! The good news, though, is that it was this same Islamic Army group that freed two French journalists in 2004 after holding them captive for four months. Iraqi Interior Minister Bayan Jabr also suggested that the same group kidnapped his sister, who was seized about four days before Jill but then freed a few weeks later. Read the the full story here. Meanwhile, The Jordan Times, where Jill worked for a year, ran yet another moving editorial on Jill’s ordeal, Here is an excerpt:

If our immediate thoughts go to Jill — we know you are and will continue to be strong — and her family, because we were lucky to have her with us from one year and could experience firsthand her professionalism, dedication, brightness, generosity and amazingly good nature, we are certainly not forgetting other colleagues suffering in Iraq.

Following the Iraqi announcement that Jill was alive, Christian Science Monitor editor Richard Bergenheim released a statement:

The Carroll family and The Christian Science Monitor continue to follow developments in Iraq very carefully. We appreciate the wide-ranging efforts being made by Iraqi and US officials to secure Jill’s release. We hope that today’s encouraging statements about Jill’s condition and prospects for safe return are proved correct.

Iraqi official hopeful, says Jill is alive as deadline passes

The Feb 26 deadline set by Jill’s kidnappers passed by yesterday with nary a word about Jill. But I believe, at this stage, no news is good news. This morning, some reports from notable sources emerged indicating that Jill is still alive. These statements came from an Iraqi official and US Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad, with the Iraqi official claiming to know the kidnapper’s name and address:

A top Iraqi official tells ABC News that he believes Jill Carroll is alive and that he believes she will be released, even though the latest deadline for the kidnapped journalist has passed with no news of her fate. Iraqi Interior Minister Bayan Jabur al Zubaidi said he knew who had abducted the 28-year-old freelance journalist. "We know his name and address, and we are following up on him as well as the Americans," Zubaidi said. "I think she is still alive." The minister said the problem was that authorities don’t know where Carroll is being held, and that the original kidnappers may have sold her to a more radical group.

U.S ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad told ABC News that he also believed Carroll was alive. "We do believe that she is in fact alive," Khalilzad said on "Good Morning America." "I have discussed the issue with the interior minister. As I said, we will work as hard as we can to get her released. She clearly is in a dangerous situation, but we’re working hard with the Iraqis and others to get her released. That’s what we’re working for."

Source: [ABC News]

From my part, I’m still hopeful. For those reading this, please keep praying!

Rally held at UMass calling for Jill’s release

I was pleased to see that students at the University of Massachusetts, where Jill got her journalism degree, held a rally to support her release. Karen List, one of her old journalism professors, told a crowd of some 100 supporters at the rally that Jill had "a passion for telling the story." Here is the link to the full Associated Press story:

Rally for Jill

"She makes a lot of us feel better about this business we’re getting into," said Eric Athas, managing editor of the Daily Collegian, the campus newspaper which sponsored the rally. "We look at her and what she was trying to do in Iraq, and it makes us feel good about the profession."

And what her stories accomplished, her supporters say, was showing the struggle of ordinary Iraqis in an honest and straightforward way. "Go back and read her stories," said Amy Sidoti, who was Carroll’s roommate for two years. "That’s what the purpose of her being in Iraq is."

Also, the Christian Science Monitor has a link to the public service video calling for Jill’s release that ran on an Iraqi TV station.

UPDATE: Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has announced the launch of a week-long international support campaign for Jill’s release, as well as the release of two kidnapped Iraqi journalists: Rim Zeid and Marwan Khazaal.

Reporters Without Borders bus"Reporters Without Borders activists will be launching the campaign week today, Tuesday, February 21, by taking a special bus tour in Paris to lobby journalists and other staff members of the city’s main media offices about the plight of the three kidnapped victims," the press release stated.

In several cities, including Washington, London and New York, Reporters Without Borders said they will be handing out badges with the slogan "Free Jill Carroll." Source: [CSM]

RSF also released several audio statements from Jill’s family. The first is from Jill’s father, Jim:

[I want to ] thank all of the world media for their efforts to help free my daughter Jill Carroll. She and thousands of other journalists try to bring truth to the world every day, and it is especially important in Iraq right now. My daughter was called to perform a vital service for Iraq and the rest of the world.

Her stories in the past three years have covered political leaders and events, but also many stories of ordinary people and their struggle to survive. Those stories deserve to be told so that all people understand what is happening in Iraq. Please give your support so that Jill Carroll and Reem Zeid and Marwan Khazaal, also held in Iraq, will be free to continue their vital work."

The second is from Jill’s sister, Katie:

Jill is the strongest and most caring person I know. I’m proud of her and I hope that young journalists around the world are inspired by her passion. It is my wish that Jill, Reem Zeid, and Marwan Khazaal will soon be able to resume their work in bringing the stories of Iraq to the world.

Former Saddam regime official appeals for Jill’s release

Here is a quick Jill update from the Christian Science Monitor:

Sattam Hameed Farhan al-Gaood, a former senior official in Saddam Hussein’s regime, made an appeal in Jordan today for the release of journalist Jill Carroll. Mr. Gaood, who was released in December after an extended period in US detention, stated that he is profoundly opposed to the US occupation of Iraq. But he called for Jill’s release "to prove that the resistance does not kill innocents." "Upon the request of Jill Carroll’s family who called on us to contribute to release their daughter, I have already taken serious steps and am doing the best I can in this respect," Mr. Gaood said.

"I find myself in a position that can’t be ignored, because the appeal came from a mother and a father and not from a bunch of occupiers … I call upon you in the name of Islam and the honor that is characteristic of Muslims and Arabs, and remind you that forgiveness is a duty … I as your brother have been asked to help, and if you think that I am worthy, then please respond to my appeal."

Hope is what is keeping me going these days. In spite of the latest deadline set by the kidnappers, I have not lost hope. I still wholeheartedly believe that I will see Jill … and soon, real soon.

UPDATE: Here is another update from the Monitor:

Advertisement for Jill's release from Iraqi TV On Tuesday, Al Iraqiya, one of Iraq’s most watched TV stations, began carrying a public service video calling for the release of Jill Carroll. The spot reminds viewers of Jill’s love for Iraq and includes interviews with Iraqis who talk about their concern for Jill, saying they’ve come to feel as if she’s one of their daughters. The televised announcement is part of an ongoing campaign by the Iraqi media to support efforts to free Jill.

There are two versions of the public service video. The shorter version portrays Iraqis and Jill’s mother Mary Beth Carroll appealing for her release. The longer one incorporates an emotional appeal from Adnan al-Dulaimi, the influential Sunni Arab politician Jill had been hoping to interview on the morning of her abduction, speaking of how deeply distressed he’s been left by Jill’s abduction. Several other major Iraqi TV stations have indicated they intend to run the public service announcement in the coming days.

Source: [CSM]

UPDATE 2: Veteran Aljazeera anchor Mohmamad Kreishan asked for Jill’s release in an editorial (in Arabic) published in the pan-Arab daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi. The gist of his commentary is that kidnapping journalists is wrong generally and that, in partciular, Jill is known for her love of her profession, her dedication to her job, and as someone who sought to convey the daily sufferings of Iraqis. He also commended her work, saying she is not like those "hotel journalists" that stay in their hotels and rarely venture outside to get the story. He ended his editorial by appealing to the kidnappers to release Jill, saying otherwise "her blood will turn into a curse on you and on the whole country, which is something we do not want to happen, neither to you nor to the country."

Kidnappers set new deadline for Jill

Reuters has just released some breaking news from Al Rai TV in Kuwait in the last few minutes. According to Al Rai, the kidnappers say they will carry out a threat to kill Jill unless their demands are met by a Feb. 26 deadline. The station is citing sources that are "close to her captors."

Kidnappers holding U.S. journalist Jill Carroll say they will carry out a threat to kill her unless their demands are met by a Feb. 26 deadline, Kuwait’s Al Rai TV said on Friday, citing sources close to her captors. In response to a question from Reuters, Al Rai chairman Jassem Boodai declined to specify the kidnappers’ demands … "The demands are specific. We have passed them on to the authorities," Boodai told Reuters.

Source: [Reuters]

Previously Jill said the group was demanding the release of all female detainees held in Iraq and then five were released, but US and Iraqi officials denied any quid pro quo. 450 detainees were released over the last 48 hours in Iraq, but none were women. It is unclear from this statement if there are additional demands and it’s unclear what was in the letter Jill mentioned she was providing in her 9 Feb. video statement. As of today, 10 February 2006, Jill has been held captive 35 days!

UPDATE: Reuters has provided an additional piece of information from Al Rai in an updated version of that same report that indicates that Jill is being kept in the capital with other women:

The private television station said sources reported Carroll was being held in a house in Baghdad along with other women. In the video aired on Thursday by Al Rai, Carroll, 28, was shown wearing a headscarf and apparently composed and in good health — unlike a previous video in which she was distraught.

This was detailed a bit further in a quote from the Associated Press: "People close to the kidnappers told the private TV channel earlier Friday that Carroll is "in a safe house owned by one of the kidnappers in downtown Baghdad with a group of women," Jassem Boudai told The Associated Press."

UPDATE 2: This Associated Press report is quite insightful regarding the media movement that’s occurred with this latest tape. It also adds some additional information and provides one of the best analysis articles about the use of media in this whole terrible mess, confirming the fact that Aljazeera exercised considerable editorial control over release of the tapes so as not to provide an open mic to whomsoever perpetrates these actions. In other words, as mentioned before, there was audio on the tapes preceeding this one, but they chose not to air it.

But, as the story highlights, smaller outfits, like Al Rai, have an interest in putting these things out there to make a name for themselves, acting as a conduit for ner-do-wells. Also of note: the off-the-record Jazeera employee who confirmed that there was mention made of "letters" being sent in the other two videos. Here’s the story in full:

Carroll’s Iraqi kidnappers change channels in bid for more prominence

By Paul Garwood

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) – Kidnappers of journalist Jill Carroll have chosen a new TV station to broadcast their videotapes in a bid to promote their demands more effectively and increase pressure on the U.S. government, security experts said Friday. The third and latest tape, which appeared on a Kuwaiti station late Thursday, also gave new hope that the 28-year-old freelance reporter for The Christian Science Monitor is alive. The American was kidnapped Jan. 7 in Baghdad by gunmen who shot and killed her translator. The first two videotapes of Carroll in captivity were aired last month on Al-Jazeera television, but the station did not carry her voice.

The private Kuwaiti station Al-Rai broadcast the new 22-second video in its entirety and with Carroll’s voice. She spoke of having sent two letters but did not say to whom. "I am with the mujahedeen," she said. "I sent you a letter written by my hand, but you wanted more evidence, so we are sending you this letter now to prove I am with the mujahedeen."

An Al-Jazeera employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to make statements for the station, confirmed the first two videos referred to a letter. The station did not mention any letters when it aired the videotapes. It did report that the kidnappers were demanding the release of women held prisoner in Iraq.

Al-Rai owner Jassem Boudai said his station has given U.S.authorities Carroll’s letter, which he only described as "sensitive." The station didn’t reveal its contents, he said, out of concern for the reporter. Some terror analysts said Carroll’s kidnappers used the relatively unknown station to get more of its message across and to avoid being tainted by Al-Jazeera’s reputation as being biased toward insurgents.

Al-Jazeera came under sharp criticism for airing videos showing al-Qaida in Iraq, led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, with hostages they soon beheaded. The station cut the tape when masked gunmen drew knives and moved toward their doomed victims. Since then, Al-Jazeera has sought to air just enough material for news value without appearing to be a conduit for gruesome propaganda. Station policy is not to carry the voices of hostages.

"There are a lot of question marks for insurgents at Al-Jazeera because they don’t air all their tapes in entirety, or not immediately or sometimes not at all," said Mustafa al-Ani, director of terrorism studies at Gulf Research Center in the United Arab Emirates." But these small stations will jump at such opportunities because they aren’t famous," he said. "Very few people had heard of Al-Rai before that tape, but now people all over the United States know it."

Another senior Al-Jazeera editor concurred, saying Carroll’s kidnappers had found it impossible to get their demands aired fully because of his station’s strict content policies. He said the kidnappers wanted to make their demands clear and used Al-Rai to do so. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to make statements for Al-Jazeera.

A top U.S. media analyst said being able to get their messages out in their entirety will have an impact on the American public, and could put pressure on officials to question the Bush administration’s approach to the war in Iraq. "These videos will prompt us to feel fear, hope, heightened anger or frustration about a matter as viewers will have little control over, and this could lead us to putting more pressure on our public officials," said Bob Steele of the Florida-based Poynter Institute for Media Studies.