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Who knows whether this will help or not, but it can’t hurt. Go here and sign the petition that will likely do nothing to help pardon former border patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean. But as I said, it doesn’t hurt.

I’ve already covered in-depth the unfortunate plight of Ramos and Compean. Needless to say the ineptitude of our government goes beyond the Iraq fiasco. It often hits home. In this case, it struck wildly and with extreme malice at Compean and Ramos and their families.

Keep these men and their wives and their fathers and mothers and children in your thoughts this holiday season. If we move beyond the holiday season and a pardon has not been granted, continue to keep them in your thoughts. This indisputable travesty of the United States judicial system should not be allowed to meet the conclusion George Bush, Michael Chertoff, Katheel Cardone, and et. al. obviously wish it to meet.

Ignacio “Nacho” Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean should not go to jail.

Border agents plead for ‘Christmas pardon’
Congressman hosts rally asking Bush to stop ‘miscarriage of justice’


Posted: December 20, 2006
1:00 a.m. Eastern
By Art Moore
© 2006 WorldNetDaily.com


Former U.S. Border Patrol agent Ignacio Ramos embraced his wife, Monica Ramos, two days before he was sentenced to 11 years in prison (Courtesy El Paso Times)

A Border Patrol agent sentenced to prison along with his partner for shooting and wounding a man smuggling drugs into the U.S. will appear with a congressman tomorrow at a rally asking President Bush to offer a pardon.

Jose Alonso Compean and Ignacio Ramos, were sentenced to 12 years and 11 years, respectively, in October by U.S. District Court Judge Kathleen Cardone in El Paso, Texas. The drug smuggler was granted immunity for his testimony.

Compean will be joined by family; Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R, Calif.; Minuteman Project founder Jim Gilchrist; and members of other border-security groups such as Friends of the Border Patrol at the courthouse in Santa Ana, Calif., at 1:30 p.m. Pacific time tomorrow.

Rohrabacher, noting the president already has received a letter about the case from more than 50 Congress members, is asking Americans to sign petitions and send e-mails and letters to the White House requesting a “Christmas pardon.”

Grassfire.org has an online petition calling on Bush to pardon the agents, with more than 130,000 signatures.

“This is the greatest miscarriage of justice that I’ve seen in my career,” Rohrabacher told WND. “Two brave Border Patrol agents trying to enforce the president’s nonsensical border policy ending up being sent to prison, while an illegal alien drug smuggler is given immunity and walks free.”

Compean’s sister, of Huntington Beach, lives in Rohrabacher’s Southern California district.

The White House has not responded to the letter, according to Rohrabacher, and did not follow up a request from WND for comment. Press secretary Tony Snow has said he cannot comment on presidential pardons.

Gilchrist said what has happened to the two agents is “atrocious,” with “their lifes being ruined, their families being put in turmoil.”

“We would expect the president to give a full and unconditional pardon to these two wrongly arrested, wrongly accused, wrongly convicted members of law enforcement,” he told WND, “and retroactive pay and benefits they’ve lost over the past two years since they were originally arrested.”

As WND has reported, a federal jury convicted Compean, 28, and Ramos, 37, in March after a two-week trial on charges of causing serious bodily injury, assault with a deadly weapon, discharge of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence and a civil rights violation.


Agent Jose Alonso Compean. Courtesy of KFOX-TV

Ramos is an eight-year veteran of the U.S. Naval Reserve and a former nominee for Border Patrol Agent of the Year.

On Feb. 17, 2005, Ramos responded to a request for back-up from Compean, who noticed a suspicious van near the levee road along the Rio Grande River near the Texas town of Fabens, about 40 miles east of El Paso. A third agent also joined the pursuit.

Fleeing was an illegal alien, Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila of Mexico. Unknown to the growing number of Border Patrol agents converging on Fabens, Aldrete-Davila’s van was carrying 800 pounds of marijuana.

Aldrete-Davila stopped the van on a levee, jumped out and started running toward the river. When he reached the other side of the levee, he was met by Compean who had anticipated the smuggler’s attempt to get back to Mexico.

“We both yelled out for him to stop, but he wouldn’t stop, and he just kept running,” Ramos told California’s Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.

“At some point during the time where I’m crossing the canal, I hear shots being fired,” Ramos said. “Later, I see Compean on the ground, but I keep running after the smuggler.”

At that point, Ramos said, Aldrete-Davila turned toward him, pointing what looked like a gun.

“I shot,” Ramos said. “But I didn’t think he was hit, because he kept running into the brush and then disappeared into it. Later, we all watched as he jumped into a van waiting for him. He seemed fine. It didn’t look like he had been hit at all.”

The U.S. government filed charges against Ramos and Compean after giving full immunity to Aldrete-Davila and paying for his medical treatment at an El Paso hospital.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas issued a statement in September arguing “the defendants were prosecuted because they had fired their weapons at a man who had attempted to surrender by holding his open hands in the air, at which time Agent Compean attempted to hit the man with the butt of Compean’s shotgun, causing the man to run in fear of what the agents would do to him next.”

The statement said, “Although both agents saw that the man was not armed, the agents fired at least 15 rounds at him while he was running away from them, hitting him once.”

Andy Ramirez of Friends of the Border Patrol said the drug smuggler has “fully contributed to the destruction of two brave agents and their families and has sent a very loud message to the other Border Patrol agents: If you confront a smuggler, this is what will happen to you.”

The letter to Bush included the signatures of Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Fla., Rep. Gary Miller, R-Calif., Rep. Sue Myrick, R-N.C., Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Va. and Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., the chairman of the House Immigration Reform Caucus.

“We ask that a full investigation of this case be ordered immediately,” the letter said. “We are confident that during such an investigation you will find that these Border Patrol agents were acting within the scope of their duty and were unjustly prosecuted. Also, we ask that you use your power of presidential pardon, as granted by the United States Constitution in Article II, Section 2, to pardon these two Border Patrol agents. We understand these requests usually are for those that have already completed their sentences; however, we feel in this case it would be a miscarriage of justice to send these two Border Patrol agents to prison for protecting our nation’s borders from an illegal drug smuggler.”

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In keeping with the living nightmare that Ingacio Ramos and Jose Compean have been and are bearing, especially today with their sentencing, here is an interview with Compean that was aired on CNN recently that goes fairly in-depth into what happened and what is happening with the two border patrol agents predicament.

Even Lou Dobbs is visibly repulsed at what the United States government has perpetrated upon Ramos and Compean and their families.  If this does not make you angry at our current administration and those who participated in the railroading of these two border agents, then please check out of the human race.  We don’t want you.

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Epilogue • Family reunion

Lessons learned for Jill and the Monitor about her campaign for freedom. What’s happened to Alan’s family?

| Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

On April 2, 2006, a white Lufthansa 747 with the designation “Hamburg” written on its side taxied up to a gate at Boston’s Logan Airport. At 12:22 p.m., Jill Carroll stepped off the plane and onto US soil.

As she passed through customs, agents and other officials on duty crowded around for a chance to see her. Whisked into a waiting car, she was driven to the Monitor’s headquarters in Boston’s Back Bay, a police escort around her and news helicopters overhead.

Jill was traveling light. She’d left a big yellow bag of clothes and toiletries from her captivity in the Green Zone in Baghdad. She’d decompressed there for a day, talking to members of the US Embassy’s Hostage Working Group, before traveling on an aircraft carrying American casualties to Ramstein Air Force Base in Landstuhl, Germany.

(Photograph)
ZIPPY! Jill’s family shouted her nickname out of the window as she pulled up in front of a Boston apartment on April 2, moments before they were finally reunited.
MELANIE STETSON FREEMAN – STAFF
Photos: Homecoming photos

In Boston, her car went straight into the underground garage of the Christian Science church headquarters. In a preplanned bit of evasion, she was led through basement corridors under the complex to a loading dock on a nearby side street. She then jumped into a blue van – easily missing the media horde camped outside the Monitor building.

The van went only a few blocks, to a nearby church-owned townhouse. There, Jim, Mary Beth, and Katie crowded around an open window, yelling her nickname, “Zippy!”

Jill met them coming down the hallway in a whole-family embrace. She wept and said, “I’m sorry.” She was home.

(Photograph)
SISTERS REUNITED: Katie and Jill Carroll hug in Boston on April 2 upon Jill’s return from Iraq. Their parents, Jim and Mary Beth Carroll, look on.
MELANIE STETSON FREEMAN – STAFF
Photos: Homecoming photos

Nearly five months on, what’s to be learned from Jill Carroll’s kidnapping and release?

Monitor editors and correspondents were heartened by the global condemnation of the kidnapping, especially from Muslim religious leaders and even militant groups, such as Hamas. They remain proud of the media campaign they helped mount, from the solicitation of statements on Jill’s behalf to the public service announcements that ran in the Iraqi media. They believe it was targeted to the right audience – the Middle East – and well placed. They know the kidnappers saw some of it.

It’s presumptuous to say it led directly to her release, but “I do think that changed the mental climate,” says Richard Bergenheim, editor of the Monitor.

Another obvious conclusion is that Iraq has become a very dangerous place for the news media. More than 100 journalists, including interpreters and assistants, have died there since March 2003.

Since Jill’s kidnapping, the Monitor has upgraded its security measures in Baghdad – both because of what had happened to her and because of the worsening situation on the ground. Editors won’t detail those measures, so as not to undermine their effectiveness. The paper has kept a British security firm on retainer for consultation.

As for Jill herself, she says that her experience taught her about priorities. Throughout her 82-day ordeal, she missed her family and her friends. Work and success didn’t seem so important anymore. “I never once wished I’d filed one more story,” she says.

But she doesn’t regret going to Iraq in the first place. She was doing what she had always wanted to do – foreign reporting. Since her release, she has returned to Egypt, and is glad of it. She experienced again the distinctive culture of the Islamic world in a peaceful context.

“What happened to me is not the whole Middle East,” she says.

Jill is no longer a freelancer. To provide financial support in anticipation of her eventual release, the Monitor quietly made Jill a full-time employee a week after she was abducted. This fall, she’s been accepted into a journalism fellowship program at a major university. After that, she plans to return to writing from overseas.

Why was she released? Probably no one really knows except for her kidnappers. Maybe the public pressure worked. Maybe private whispers via Western and Middle Eastern intelligence convinced influential Sunnis that harming Jill wasn’t in their best interest.

Maybe as the political situation changed, so did the priorities of her kidnappers. Maybe the kidnappers just got what they wanted – publicity or the release of women from Abu Ghraib prison. Or maybe Jill herself – the smart, young American who spoke Arabic – helped alter her captors’ plans.

“One of the most effective weapons against terrorism is the truth. The truth was that Jill Carroll was not the enemy of her captors. Her father spoke that truth, and the rest of the world repeated it,” says Christopher Voss, special agent with the FBI’s Crisis Negotiation Unit in Quantico, Va.

As far as the Monitor and Jill’s family can determine, no ransom changed hands to win her release.

Earlier this month, the US military announced that it had captured four of Jill’s suspected kidnappers, after raiding a total of four locations in Baghdad, Abu Ghraib, and a village west of Fallujah. US sources in Baghdad have told staff writer Scott Peterson that the man Jill knew as “Abu Ahmed” (aka Sheikh Sadoun, say US military sources) was arrested by US Marines on May 19. The others in custody are guards, not the top figures in the group.

Members of murdered translator Alan Enwiya‘s immediate family have left Iraq, where they felt endangered. They are applying for US government permission to join their extended family in the US.

Jill never met the man who shot Alan. She was told that Alan’s killer died a few weeks later during an insurgent military operation.

Driver Adnan Abbas, having survived the abduction, was initially a suspect. He passed a polygraph test, and was cleared by Iraqi police. He, his wife, and four children (including a newborn) have also moved to another country. Their future remains uncertain, but their ambition is to live and work in the US.

The Monitor has established two funds to help these families start new lives. Among the donations received so far: The $800 cash the mujahideen gave Jill just prior to her release. She plans to sell the gold necklace and donate those funds, as well.

How to help
(Photograph)
HOWARD LAFRANCHI/THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR

Alan Enwiya is one of nearly 100 journalists and media assistants killed in Iraq since March 2003. Alan (left side of photo) is survived by his wife, Fairuz, his two children, Martin and Mary Ann, and his parents. They have left Iraq and hope to move to the US where they have relatives.

Jill Carroll’s driver, Adnan Abbas, is a witness to Alan’s murder. He, his wife, and their four children (including a newborn) have also fled Iraq for their own safety.

In response to readers, the Monitor has established funds to help each family start a new life. Donations may be sent to:

The Alan Enwiya Fund
c/o The Christian Science Monitor
One Norway Street
Boston, MA 02115

The Adnan Abbas Fund
c/o The Christian Science Monitor
One Norway Street
Boston, MA 02115

Donations can also be made online.

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Part 9 • The Muj brothers

Jill’s two guards watch cartoons and the Koran channel. But tension grows as she becomes more desperate.

| Staff writers of The Christian Science Monitor

(J.C.) Abu Qarrar was young, rotund, and seemed new to the mujahideen lifestyle. He hadn’t memorized much of the Koran, unlike his more senior counterparts. He sometimes sneaked glances at the women on the music-video channels when he thought no one was looking.

To show off, he would run in place, then kick his right leg in the air and fling his arms forward in an awkward demonstration of kung fu.

Abu Hassan was older, athletic, and seething with devotion to jihad. He seemed a veteran fighter – although, like Abu Qarrar, he loved the “Cat and Mouse” cartoons. Yes, they watched “Tom and Jerry.”

When he was bored – which was often – he’d use his cellphone to record himself giving fake fiery sermons standing at the top of the stairs as if on a mosque pulpit. Then he’d play them back, to hear how he’d sound if he were a famous imam.

These two men were my most constant guards. They reported to Abu Ahmed, one of Abu Nour‘s lieutenants. Abu Ahmed was an Islamic scholar who had just finished an Arabic translation of a Henry Kissinger biography and was reading ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie.

The two guards weren’t at every house where I was held, and others came and went even when they were present. But during my captivity I spent more time with them than anyone else. They were my up-close-and-personal examples of the rank and file of the Iraqi mujahideen.

Abu Qarrar and Abu Hassan were also starkly different people, despite the fact that they called each other “brother.” In this, they were symbolic of the contrasts I saw in the larger group of mujahideen.

Some members were clever; others, not so much. Some seemed dangerous; most were devout. A few were sympathetic. A few were educated. At least one of the women appeared bitter about her lot in life.

As far as I knew, all were native Iraqis.

As the weeks of my captivity turned into months, Abu Qarrar and Abu Hassan became tense and unhappy. They were bored with guard duty and tired of inaction. They became more petty and controlling toward me.

Meanwhile, I was increasingly desperate, fearful, and angry. I felt I was beginning to lose my self-control.

The result was conflict between me and the Muj Brothers which, if not for the context, might have seemed adolescent. We couldn’t let little slights go. We were like animals in a cage, locked in all together.

• • •

(Photograph)
GLOBAL SUPPORT: In Rome, a poster of Jill was hung from city hall on Feb. 5.
Pier Paolo Cito/AP
Photos: Efforts to free Jill

(P.G.) The Feb. 26 deadline tied to the third video came and went. The kidnappers didn’t call. They didn’t write. They issued no new demands. But public interest in Jill Carroll’s plight didn’t flag. The Monitor’s Team Jill had adopted a strategy early on to take a low-key US media response. They followed the advice of experts who had analyzed The Wall Street Journal’s efforts to free Daniel Pearl after he was kidnapped in Pakistan: ignore the Western media, focus on Iraqi media. The kidnappers and ordinary Iraqis who might generate tips won’t be watching Larry King.

Still, Jill’s abduction struck a remarkable global chord. There was a series of “Free Jill” rallies in Paris. A giant poster of her was hung from the city hall in Rome. Students at the University of Massachusetts (where Jill went to school) and at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor (where Jill grew up) held rallies and candlelight vigils. Thousands sent donations to a fund set up to support the family of Alan, Jill’s Iraqi interpreter. A jazz song was composed in her honor. Paintings and poems were sent to the Monitor offices. And prayers were said at hundreds of churches, mosques, and synagogues around the United States.

A 45-year-old man from Fremont, Calif., was one of half a dozen Americans who offered to take Jill’s place. “I would like to emphasize the fact that I am definitely not suicidal nor would I relish having my life cut short….

“I’m offering myself as a replacement for her as a hostage or even as a potential martyr for her outstanding work as a balanced and compassionate journalist,” he wrote.

(J.C.) Abu Qarrar claimed to have been part of the team that abducted me, but if he was, I didn’t see him. I do remember that he was the guard who sat outside the door of my bedroom on the first night I was held.

After all, he was hard to miss, with a girth that advertised his eating habits and a tattoo of Arabic writing on his inner left arm.

(Photograph) View our interactive map.

He told me he was 26. At the beginning of my ordeal he was unmarried. Later, he left for a period of time for an arranged wedding to a 13-year-old bride.

He didn’t know what e-mail was. He’d never seen a computer. He marveled at how a can opener worked. There were times when we got along well. But overall I thought he acted like a spoiled little boy who enjoyed his authority over another human being – namely, me.

I learned this early on. During the first full day of my captivity, he kept peeking in the door, presumably to make sure I wasn’t trying to escape. I’d heard that it was best for hostages to try to make captors see them as human beings, to elicit sympathy, so I tried talking to him. I asked him to help me with my Arabic.

I would point to things, and he would tell me their Arabic names. I was open, even friendly. That turned out to be a big mistake.

You can’t be that way with men in such a conservative culture. They often take it the wrong way. He began to get demanding, even assertive. At one point, the pin on my hijab came loose, and I started to pin it back up.

Abu Qarrar demanded, “No, open.”

I looked down and whispered, “No.”

He repeated, “Open!” He looked at me with wide eyes, very serious.

To Westerners this may sound like an innocuous exchange, but in the context of the conservative Middle East, this was a totally inappropriate advance. I needed to shut him down completely. I put my head down, held my hands in my lap, and didn’t move a muscle.

Finally he left and closed the door and locked it. He returned every hour or so, and I wouldn’t even look at him. I’d just sit there.

Abu Hassan I met later. He was older – about 32, I would guess – and married with children. Where Abu Qarrar was unathletic, Abu Hassan was trim and fit. He told me he’d been a gym teacher. For some reason I got the impression he’d been in Saddam Hussein’s elite Republican Guard.

At first I found him to be the more sympathetic of the Muj Brothers. His age made him seem more mature, or at least more responsible. Later I saw that by guarding me, he was being confined as well. Desperate as he was for action, he would get cabin fever in minutes. Then he’d pace, reciting the fatiha, the opening chapter of the Koran.

The relationship of the Muj Brothers to each other was not one of equals. At times, Abu Hassan treated Abu Qarrar as if he were an insurgent’s apprentice.

For instance, the older man taught the younger how to clear the chamber of his handgun and remove its clip. This was good for my safety, as Abu Qarrar would often point his handgun at me and pretend to shoot, for fun.

Abu Hassan used to go out at night sometimes to plant IEDs. Then in daylight he’d go out again, to detonate them. One day, when we were at the insurgent’s “clubhouse,” as I called it, he decided he would have to wait before leaving to set off his explosives. There were too many American soldiers in the vicinity, he said.

So Abu Qarrar decided he would act the part of the mujahideen hero. He grabbed a black-and-white checked kaffiyeh, the common Arabic head covering favored by insurgents, threw it over his shoulders in a dramatic swoop, and declared that he would set off to fight the Americans, no matter what.

Like a teacher facing a rebellious student, Abu Hassan grabbed Abu Qarrar by the shoulders and snatched away the kaffiyeh over Abu Qarrar’s loud objections. The younger man wasn’t going to be allowed to pick his own battles. And Abu Hassan recognized the kaffiyeh for what it was, a giant flashing sign to any US soldier that as much as said, “Shoot me! I’m a muj!”

(J.C.) As my time in captivity passed the two-month mark, my morale, already low, began to deteriorate sharply.

One of my biggest problems was that I had let myself have hope. Numerous times, the insurgent leader, the black-eyed Abu Nour, had said my release was only a matter of settling details. Inevitably, my mood would soar – and then the release wouldn’t happen, due to some unspecified “problem.” Then I’d feel worse than if I hadn’t been told anything at all.

Then there were the videos. They had been astounded when my first hostage video, in which I had been forced to plead for the release of women at Abu Ghraib, had coincided with the freeing of five female prisoners by the US. After that, they seemed to be almost in a frenzy to see what else they could get in exchange for me.

They kept wanting to film different videos with different demands aimed at different audiences. Sometimes I was pleading with the American people in general for help. Once I asked the King of Jordan to free Sajida Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi, a woman who tried to blow up a Jordanian hotel Nov. 9, 2005. Her explosive vest failed to detonate and she was caught. Another time I begged for aid from the leader of the United Arab Emirates. Later, I made one denouncing him.

While only four of my videos ever reached the outside world, I made nearly a dozen, including retakes done when I didn’t cry enough to satisfy my mujahideen producers. And I dreaded making them, not so much because it’s scary to plead for your life in front of a camera, but because I recognized that each one was a guarantee I would remain in captivity for some time longer.

Of course, there was an even worse alternative – that the death threats and deadlines they mentioned would be real.

• • •

(P.G.) After the fury over the Feb. 22 Samarra bombing and the backlash over Danish newspaper cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad, it seemed wise to lower Jill’s media profile until emotions calmed somewhat. From about mid-February no public service ads were broadcast.

On March 7, the two-month mark of Jill’s abduction, the Monitor restarted the PSA campaign in Iraq. It distributed a video to Iraqi news outlets that included clips from an Al Sharqiya TV interview. The Baghdad-based network had interviewed an Iraqi family that Jill had written a story about in the spring of 2005. A toddler had been left paralyzed by a suicide bomber, and her family had been left homeless. Jill had profiled the family, and later brought money to them sent by readers.

The story illustrated her compassion for Iraqis. But it also highlighted how Jill’s personal and professional history made it easy to generate public support for her in the region.

On March 10, the US State Department announced that they had found the body of American Quaker activist Tom Fox. He had been taken hostage on Nov. 26, 2005, along with three other members of the Christian Peacemakers Team. To those working on Jill’s behalf, it was an emotional blow; a harsh reminder that hostages held long enough to become icons with their own TV news logos often get killed.

Would PSAs be enough to protect her?

(J.C.) Meanwhile, my relationship with my guards Abu Qarrar and Abu Hassan got worse as well. Frustration and boredom had slowly eroded their once permissive and friendly attitudes toward me.

Once they had pretended I was a guest. Now they made mean jokes and comments about me in Arabic, thinking I didn’t understand. They capriciously restricted my tiny freedoms, such as access to sun, fresh air, and even interior space for pacing.

Their logic was twisted. They were mad at me because they had to guard me, and wanted to punish me for it.

They picked at me in petty ways. One day we were having tea, and I took my glass and stirred it counterclockwise, as I always do.

“No, that’s wrong!” said Abu Qarrar, only half-joking. “Stir your tea clockwise!”

I was tired of that kind of behavior. When we later moved to Abu Ahmed‘s house west of Fallujah, I went over their heads, in essence, to gain more freedoms. I took advantage of the situation to escape the Muj Brothers and hang out with the woman of the house.

They couldn’t follow me. The woman’s husband was gone during the day, and it would have been unthinkably improper for unrelated men to be around her in any way.

So I had one of the best days I had in captivity. The woman and I chopped vegetables, cooked, washed dishes, swept the floor, made tea, and played games with her little girl. I sensed a flicker of sympathy when the woman complimented my potato peeling ability, and when she asked what people in America ate for breakfast, as we set out the morning meal.

If I pretended hard enough, I could almost fool myself into thinking I really was a guest, living with an average Iraqi family for a story about daily life.

(Photograph)
INSURGENT HOME: US officials say that this kitchen is in one of the homes where Carroll was held.
US Marine Corps/AP

But I wasn’t a guest. I was a prisoner. And my guards were determined to win our battle of wills.

A few days later we were back at the clubhouse, where there weren’t any women, and they were little kings. After we arrived, they just locked me in my room.

All my hard-won privileges were gone. They let me out to eat, but wouldn’t eat with me. In the Middle East, that’s a major insult. They wouldn’t speak, except for blunt orders.

After dinner, I was going back to my room when I turned and yelled, “This is injustice! This is thuloum!”

My strategy from the start had been to humanize myself. The only way to survive, I thought, was to get them to see me as a person, not a symbol or an object of hate. But by this point, I had put up with so much from so many people, I didn’t care. All the questions:

“Why aren’t you a Muslim?”

“Why don’t you love Zarqawi?”

“Why don’t you want to drive a car bomb?”

Plus the fact I’d been kidnapped and Alan murdered. It was all ridiculous.

They just locked me back in my room. And that night, as I lay there, I thought, “I can’t do this. I’m not going to win this. It’s stupid to try.”

The next morning, I didn’t knock on the door to come out. I waited for them to fetch me. When they did, I just kept my head down and walked to the bathroom. I was quiet and deferential – as I had been in my ordeal’s early days.

I had to keep my eye on the larger goal, which was survival. I had to give in.

The Muj Brothers had won the battle with me. That didn’t mean they had won a war. In the following days, Abu Hassan slept less and less. He’d pull out his handgun and play with it.

“The American soldiers, they will never leave Iraq,” he said one day. “It will be 300 years before they go away.”

It was the first time I had every heard any of the mujahideen express anything less than complete optimism about the future.

(Photograph)
TWIN SISTERS: Jill and Katie Carroll say that they didn’t get along as children (top photo, at age 5). But after they graduated from high school (bottom) that began to change.
Photos Courtesy of the Carroll Family

(P.G.) As March slipped away, to some involved in the long effort to free Jill, it was as if they were now coasting – like a car that was moving forward, but with the engine off.

So Team Jill did what they had agreed to do when things seemed too quiet. They’d kept one person in reserve, someone who might get lots of attention and elicit much emotion: Jill’s twin sister, Katie. It was time to put her on TV.

The funny thing – the ironic thing – is that Katie and Jill were twins who didn’t get along. Not when they were youngsters, anyway.

They fought and fought and fought all the way through high school. The points of contention between them were the usual sibling irritants, such as whose turn it was in the shower, and who’d been in whose room, and when, and for how long.

They were just different sorts of people, with different lives. Katie was a dancer and looked like a ballerina; Jill loved competitive swimming and had a muscular swimmer’s build.

But their relationship changed when they went away to college (Tufts University for Katie; the University of Massachusetts for Jill). They spent hours on the phone with each other, and suddenly the person who had been so irritating when they lived in the same house seemed like an invaluable support.

After graduation, both ended up working in the same area: foreign affairs. Katie joined an international development firm, based in Washington. Jill pursued her dream of becoming a foreign correspondent.

Katie appeared on Al Arabiya on March 29. She talked about how Jill’s kidnapping had affected her family and appealed for information that could lead to her release.

• • •

(J.C.) I got worse. I was losing it. I would curl up in the bed and cry so hard. But I couldn’t be loud, so I would cry into the bed, into the plush blanket.

Through all the weeks and months I hadn’t prayed. I thought it would be hypocritical. All of my extended family is Catholic, but I hadn’t been to church in a long time. I hadn’t grown up with much religion, in fact. But I needed to calm myself. I knew that my family and friends were doing all they could for me, but it just wasn’t enough anymore. They were out there, and I was here alone. OK, I thought, I’ll ask God for strength and patience.

“God, thank you for getting me through all these days so far,” I began. “Please just give me the strength to keep going.

“Stay with my family right now and sit with them and give them strength.

“I know I never used to come to You before and it’s bad of me to come to You now when I really need it.

“Please, just stay with me right now. Just stay with me right now and don’t leave me.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Part 8 • A new enemy

After the Feb. 22 shrine bombing in Samarra, killing Shiites became more important than killing Americans – or guarding Jill.

| Staff writers of The Christian Science Monitor

(J.C.) Blind again under the black scarves – a now familiar routine after one and a half months in captivity – I was herded into a car, headed for yet another change of houses. I didn’t know who the two men in the front seat were until I heard a voice I barely recognized, due to the speaker’s exhaustion.

“Abu Rasha is very tired. It was a very busy day,” said Abu Nour’s No. 2, speaking in the third person, as night fell like its own black scarf on the world outside.

Abu Rasha was a large man, one of the organizers of my guards. His house in Baghdad – or what I took to be his house – was one of the first places I’d been taken after being kidnapped. I’d spent a lot of time in his presence. But I’d never encountered him in a state like this.

“Today was very, very bad,” he said. “All day, driving here, and driving there, with the PKC and the RPG,” he said, referring to Russian-made machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers, which were among the insurgents’ most common weapons. It had been a day of hard fighting. But they hadn’t been confronting US or Iraqi soldiers. Today, they had had a different target: Shiites.

(Photograph)
SAMARRA: On February 22, 2006, a large explosion destroyed the golden dome shrine of Ali al-Hadi, one of Shiites’ holiest shrines.
GETTY

Two days earlier, on Feb. 22, an important Shiite mosque in Samarra, Iraq, had been blown up. Shiites had attacked Sunni mosques in retaliation – the result being a vicious cycle of attack-and-response that had altered the world of my Sunni Islamist kidnappers.

We arrived back at the place I called the “clubhouse,” near Abu Ghraib, later that night. Slumped in a plastic chair in a room lit by the stark half-light of a fluorescent camping lantern, another mujahid told me their new bottom line.

“Aisha,” he said, calling me by the Sunni nickname they’d given me, “now our No. 1 enemy are the Shias. Americans are No. 2.”

• • •

(P.G.) As editor of the Monitor, Richard Bergenheim was the person who spoke to contacts who required special handling. That meant, for instance, that if FBI Director Robert Mueller called, he answered. And Mr. Mueller did call, early on, to ask if the Monitor was getting the help it needed.

It also meant that as the Jill Carroll hostage crisis dragged on, Mr. Bergenheim found himself at the center of the strange case of Daphne Barak and Sheikh Sattam Hamid Farhan al-Gaood (also spelled Gaaod). The Monitor was simply pursuing every lead, but this would be quite a rabbit hole.

On her website, Daphne Barak describes herself as “one of the few leading A-list interviewers in the world.” An Israeli-American syndicated television journalist, her interviewees have included everyone from Hillary Clinton to members of pop star Michael Jackson’s family.

Mr. Gaood, to some US officials, isn’t so much a celebrity as he is notorious. “One of Saddam Hussein’s most trusted confidants in conducting clandestine business transactions,” according to the CIA’s 2004 report on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. The same report said Gaood was once the director of El Eman, the “largest network of Iraqi front companies” that smuggled oil out of Iraq and foodstuffs into Iraq in violation of the UN oil-for-food program, but “he has stated that he believed this to be legitimate business.”

Sometime in late January, a source at a US television network told the Monitor that Ms. Barak was trying to sell an interview she’d conducted with Gaood – and that Gaood had mentioned helping get Jill Carroll out.

So Bergenheim called Barak. The story was true – or, at least, the part about the interview was.

Gaood had said, in an offhand way, that kidnapping was wrong, and Jill should be released. Pressed, he’d said something to the effect of, yes, he could arrange her freedom, he’d even use his own money, if needed – but so far, no one had asked him to.

(J.C.) The wave of sectarian violence which overtook Iraq following the destruction of Samarra’s Askariya Shrine had a huge impact on the nature of my captivity.

That was because the level of activity of the mujahideen group which had seized me greatly increased. Many of its members were out fighting their new war almost every day.

At first, I thought this was a bad thing for me. It was destabilizing the status quo – and under the status quo, at least I was still alive.

I didn’t want to be killed just because I was now a burden. And I certainly didn’t want to be caught in the middle of a Sunni-Shiite firefight.

But after a while it became clear that this conflict, despite its horrible effect on Iraq itself, might be a good thing for me. Their main mission was now something to which my presence was, politically speaking, only tangential. And they began running out of places to put me, because suddenly, American and Iraqi troops were everywhere, trying to keep the peace.

From my first days in captivity I’d seen evidence that they weren’t just kidnappers but also insurgents actively conducting attacks. They didn’t much bother trying to hide their firearms and explosives.

For instance, one morning at the location I knew as the mujahideen clubhouse I awoke to find fresh dirt in the bathroom, dirt in the shower, and dirt in the washing machine. I didn’t think much of it. Maybe they were washing their shoes.

(Photograph)
JILLIAN TAMAKI

But I quickly learned that the appearance of dirt meant that someone in the house had been out planting bombs – IEDs, or Improvised Explosive Devices, the mujahideen weapon of choice. I knew from my reporting, and the time I spent embedded with US Marines, that IEDs were now responsible for about half of all US combat deaths in Iraq.

Not all their explosives were offensive weapons. At least one of my guards – Abu Hassan, a serious man – wore a suicide vest inside the clubhouse.

One night, he was leaning over a little gas-powered stove, cooking eggs and potatoes in oil, and then he sat back and pushed the open flame away, saying something like, “Oh, have to be careful!”

The suicide vest was under his shirt, sort of swinging back and forth. He was afraid the fire would ignite the explosives. And if it did, we’d all be dead.

He used to complain about how heavy it was. He’d wear it at night. He would mime for me what would happen if soldiers came, showing how he’d put it on, with shoulder straps, and then how two wires would connect. Then he would move his hands outward in a big motion indicating an explosion, look upward, and go, “BOOM!”

(P.G.) The prospect of help from Sheikh Gaood raised hopes at the Monitor’s offices in Boston at a time when other tracks of investigation seemed to be drying up. But it quickly became a serious source of tension at the paper and among the US agencies who were supposedly cooperating to find Jill.

The Monitor’s Baghdad correspondents Scott Peterson and Dan Murphy didn’t trust Gaood’s motives. Was Gaood trying to win favor with the US government – as it investigated violations of the UN oil-for-food sanctions program? And the FBI wasn’t happy about it either. They wanted to keep Gaood out of the picture.

US and foreign intelligence sources, on the other hand, said that Gaood had indeed been a powerful figure under Saddam Hussein. And, the CIA’s report on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction described Gaood as “linked” to an insurgent network near Fallujah that “actively sought chemical weapons for use against Coalition forces” in 2004. It was possible he had the contacts to release Jill, they said, but there were no guarantees.

Which government agency was right? How should the Monitor advise the Carroll family? And how much should the Monitor invest in pursuing this track?

According to intelligence sources, the CIA checked with the FBI, the lead agency in the Carroll case, before providing the Monitor with more background on Gaood. The FBI replied with a blistering e-mail: the CIA should stay in its own lane, and stop talking to the Monitor about the Carroll case. (Today, the FBI says no such message was sent. But Gaood “was assessed as a complete ‘X’ factor, which means undemonstrated credibility,” says FBI spokesman Richard Kolko.)

To try and settle this intergovernmental dispute, Bergenheim called Mr. Mueller, the head of the FBI. You asked if we were getting the help we needed, he said, in effect. Well, we aren’t.

(Photograph)
SATTAM AL-GAOOD: The former senior Iraqi Baath party official, shown here at his house in Amman, Jordan, Monday, Jan. 2, 2006, suggested that he could secure Jill’s release.
NADER DAOUD/AP

The FBI response? The Monitor was given two new, higher-level contacts within the bureau, but from then on the paper’s editor was given less information about the government’s efforts in the case.

Bergenheim decided to tell the Carroll family about the Barak/Gaood connection. Bad move, said the Baghdad Boys. But on Feb. 9, Jim and Mary Beth Carroll went on “Good Morning America” and asked for the help of the “powerful sheikh,” without naming him.

A few days later, Gaood issued a statement from his exile in Jordan, calling for Jill’s release to prove that the Iraqi insurgency “does not kill innocents.”

Nothing happened. And the days dragged on.

(J.C.) There was no mistaking that the mujahideen who held me hated America. “One day, hopefully, one day, America, all of America gone,” said one of my guards early in my captivity. He spread his hands out wide as if to wipe America off the map.

“I don’t quite understand,” I said. “All America?”

My female jailer Um Ali, listening in on the conversation, translated the sentiment into simpler Arabic for me. “No journalists, no people, no nothing,” she said.

I could also see that Shiites were high on their list of enemies. Once, when attempting to explain the historical split between Sunnis and Shiites, Abu Nour, the leader of my captors, stopped himself after he referred to “Shiite Muslims.”

“No, they are not Muslims,” Ink Eyes said. “Anyone who asks for things from people that are dead, and not [from] Allah, he is not a Muslim.”

He was referring to Shiites appealing to long-dead Islamic leaders to intercede with God, asking for miracles such as curing the sick. It’s a practice similar to that of Catholics praying to saints.

But after the Feb. 22 bombing of the Askariya Shrine, and rampant Sunni-Shiite killing, nearly every captor I came into contact with would tell me about their hate for Shiites first. Abu Nour now simply referred to them as “dogs.”

• • •

(Photograph)

(P.G.) The Monitor and the family still talked almost every day, but they had less to say to each other. There were fewer leads and less information to share.

In Baghdad, a new case officer from the British security consultants had arrived and was proving difficult to work with. Correspondents Murphy and Peterson were irritated by prodding from Boston to rotate out for a rest.

Neither Peterson nor Murphy considered themselves particularly religious. But as Peterson notes, “there are no atheists in foxholes.” From the beginning, he drew strength from the book of Psalms, and this passage: “Truth brings the elements of liberty. The power of God brings deliverance to the captive,” written by Mary Baker Eddy, who founded this paper.

Some nights, at the end of the last conference call with Boston, the pair would listen to Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” performed by Jeff Buckley. It filled the apartment, and lifted their spirits, with a song that Murphy knew to be one of Jill’s favorites.

Eventually, reluctantly, Peterson took a two-week break with his family in Istanbul, Turkey.

In mid-February, Jim notified the Monitor that he had opened a new channel with someone claiming to be an intermediary for the kidnappers. Hopes rose again.

An Arabic interpreter was brought into his home. But under FBI advice, Jim refused to tell Team Jill in Boston or the Baghdad Boys any of the details. Even more frustrating to Murphy and Peterson, Jill’s father told them to shut down any other tracks they were pursuing, including talks with Jordanian officials who had just said they would try to help. The Monitor reporters didn’t want to be working at cross-purposes to Jim, so they reluctantly sat on their hands.

But after the bombing of the Askariya Shrine, fighting surged between Shiite militias and Sunni insurgents, prompting more curfews. Jim’s Iraqi contact stopped answering his phone. Days dragged into a week, two weeks.

Another dry hole.

Discouraged, Jim sent word that Murphy and Peterson could resume their efforts in Iraq. By now, Murphy needed a break and left for Cairo.

(J.C.) On the day in late February that an exhausted Abu Rasha had told me that Shiites were now the mujahideen’s top target, he’d told me something else, something chilling.

“We killed an Al Arabiya journalist,” he said, his face drawn, his eyes hard. “She said the mujahideen are bad.”

It was unclear if he meant that he himself had participated in the killing or if it had been done by men from the larger group of mujahideen.

They’d frequently assured me that I wasn’t going to be killed. But clearly there were times when their rules for jihad allowed them to kill women, and to kill women journalists.

As I learned after I was released, the well-known Al Arabiya newswoman Atwar Bahjat and two colleagues were abducted and killed by gunmen while they were interviewing Iraqis near the bombed Samarra shrine.

I bounced from house to house over the next few weeks – mostly between the clubhouse and a new house west of Fallujah – and the guards grew incredibly agitated. They would bitterly complain to me about being stuck with guard duty. Abu Hassan – the guard with the suicide vest – would sleep and eat little. He was always on edge. He would fiddle with his 9mm pistol obsessively and leap to his feet to peer out a window at the first sound of a helicopter or barking dog.

(Photograph)
ATWAR BAHJAT: Jill Carroll’s captors said they killed this TV journalist on Feb. 22.
AFP/GETTY IMAGES

He spent his time on the phone, checking in with others for the latest news on their campaign to kill Shiites. When anyone came to the house, he pumped them for stories about their “work,” as they all called it.

In his state of agitation and boredom, he began raising suspicions about the Shiite neighbors. They didn’t know I was there. They didn’t appear to know that the men at this house were mujahideen. They’d drop off fresh bread or yogurt, or stop to chat outside, just as Iraqis had done for generations.

They did not yet recognize that those days of amity were over.

 

 

 

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Part 6 • Reciting Koranic verses

Jill agrees to study Islam, but realizes it’s a mistake. She hatches a plan to escape.

| Staff writers of The Christian Science Monitor

(J.C.) Um Ali – the wife of Abu Ali, my stubble-bearded captor – was my constant companion during the first three weeks of captivity. She was about 25, very pretty with big eyes. Wherever I was moved, she came, too, along with some of her children. At first, I thought she might be an ally or at least sympathetic. She wasn’t.

One night – one of the first nights in a new house in Abu Ghraib – Um Ali and I had lain down on the thin mattresses that served as beds by night and seats by day. I had just taken off my head scarf when suddenly a guard rattled the key violently in the lock and burst into the room, flipping on the light.

(Illustration)

ILLUSTRATION BY JILLIAN TAMAKI

In a frenzy, using very basic English, he ordered me up. I leapt up, my hands shaking so much I couldn’t get my head scarf repinned.

The guard started wrapping a red-and-white-checked kaffiyeh around my mouth and head, violently and tightly. I opened my eyes wide in terror, silently pleading for help to Um Ali, who was standing next to me.

Her gaze returned no sympathy. The guard whispered orders to her in Arabic that I couldn’t understand.

“Hurry, hurry, quickly, quickly,” the guard hissed angrily in Arabic.

The kaffiyeh was wrapped so hard that the dry fabric was cutting into my mouth.

“They’re going to haul me out and shoot me in the head,” I thought in panic.

He was so angry. His hatred was obvious from the violence with which he wrapped the kaffiyeh around my head. He didn’t know me, but I was an American, a symbol.

Um Ali had my glasses. As they moved me to a chair in the hall, I heard a “click, click.” Terrified, I thought it was a gun being cocked.

“If an American soldier comes here you don’t speak,” he said.

That was the reason for the frenzy! He thought there were soldiers nearby. He then demanded that I recite the Koran.

“I just have to live through this. I just have to live through this,” I thought, sitting, head bowed, blind, and breathing with difficulty. I was terrified.

After about 20 minutes it appeared no soldiers were coming. He led me back into the room and barked a command to sleep.

There were no whispered words of comfort or explanation from Um Ali.

In my early days of captivity, at one of the first houses I’d been held, an elderly woman who’d been visiting looked sadly at me and told me that inshallah – “God willing” – I would go home soon.

Then the visitor turned to Um Ali and sighed that my captivity was thuloum, or an injustice.

“This is not thuloum,” Um Ali snapped back.

My female companion/jailer/suicide-bomber-wannabe grew more irritated and despondent as the days wore on. Um Ali was stuck with me in a dim little room.

Then one evening she bounded in with a grin. She was delighted by the news reports that thousands of homes in California had been destroyed by forest fires.

“This is justice” wrought by God, she said, “because the soldiers destroy our houses.”

Part of Um Ali’s growing hardness toward me came as I tried to let her know that, despite the many hours of reciting the Koran with her, I didn’t plan to convert to Islam.

In the beginning I was an eager student, as I saw how much it pleased them whenever I showed an interest in learning. But I soon realized I had made a dangerous mistake.

(Photograph)
ISLAMIC TEXTS: At one point Jill Carroll’s captors thought her conversion to Islam might progress more rapidly if they gave her a Koran translated into English. But they could only find one in French.
ROBERT HARBISON – CSM/FILE

The more I let my captors teach me, the more they expected me to convert. After a few weeks, the question was always, “Why haven’t you come to Islam yet?”

I tried to put the brakes on delicately, afraid of what they might do if they thought I was rejecting Islam. How could I tell them that adopting a new religion and code for living wasn’t possible when I was held captive, racked with despair, and in fear daily for my life?

One afternoon, when I was exhausted from listening to Um Ali repeat verses of the Koran over and over so I could memorize them, I said, “I don’t understand the Arabic in the Koran, and so I can’t understand what it really means.”

“We’ll bring you an English Koran,” said Abu Ali, who had overheard me. “You want this?”

They were always insisting that they didn’t want to pressure me into converting, while at the same time asking me why I hadn’t converted yet.

“Oh, sure,” I said.

Abu Ali whipped out his cellphone, and made a call. “You have a Koran in English?” he said. “Quickly, quickly, bring it.”

He sounded almost frantic as he gave the person on the other end of the line directions about where to meet him.

After about 20 minutes he returned, bearing a small, green Koran. Emblazoned in gold on the cover was “Le Qur’an.” It was a French translation – not an English one.

Later, I tried telling Um Ali, gently, that I probably wasn’t going to convert after all.

She said she would be angry if I didn’t convert, given the time she had spent teaching me.

“We are afraid for you and don’t want you to go to hell,” she said. “We are afraid that we’ll see you [on Judgment Day] and you’ll say, ‘Why didn’t you save me?’ “

(P.G.) In the early days, Mary Beth Carroll did Sudoku puzzles or read cards sent by well-wishers before she went to bed. A week and a half after the abduction, Jill’s mother decided to attend a Sunday Mass at which Alan Enwiya was going to be memorialized. She had been invited to a Chicago-area Assyrian Christian church by some of his relatives. It turned out to be a cathartic trip.

Mary Beth and her companions arrived at the church on time – but it was almost empty. As the Mass began, it filled up, pew by pew. By the end of the emotional three-hour service it was jammed with parishioners who prayed for Alan and prayed for Jill, as Mary Beth sobbed into her handkerchief. She knew Jill would want her to be there. It made her feel closer to her absent daughter. And it was the first time she’d cried since the whole ordeal began.

The strain was also evident at the Monitor.

While the public support was heartening, Jill’s emergence as an iconic figure – a smart, pretty, and idealistic American caught in the maelstrom of Iraq – heightened the pressure in Boston and Baghdad. After all, terrorists behead Western icons.

While the stress was nothing like what the Carrolls faced, Team Jill and the Baghdad Boys (staff writers Scott Peterson and Dan Murphy) felt compelled to exhaustively pursue every lead, no matter how thin. And it was taking a toll. At one point, a worried British security adviser told editors in Boston that Murphy and Peterson “go to bed at 3 a.m. every night, after plotting the next day’s strategy, and wake up expecting this will be the day Jill is found. That’s unrealistic, and they can’t keep this up.”

Through most of the time Jill was in captivity, a single 8-by-11-inch color photo of her in a hijab hung near the door of the building that houses the Monitor’s Washington bureau. It had been placed there as a backdrop to a press conference by David Cook, D.C. bureau chief and the paper’s public face through the crisis.

The avuncular Mr. Cook has three sons not much younger than Jill. He passed that photo, as it grew more dog-eared and tattered, every day.

“You’d come in the door and see her picture and think, ‘Have I done everything I could today to help get her out?’ “

• • •

(J.C.) I thought about escape from the beginning and made several elaborate plans. At one of the first places I was held, there was a small window in the bathroom, about six feet up. If I reached up, I could peek out, just a little bit.

I looked out two or three times. Each time, I would do it a little bit longer. I saw a field of tall grass that stretched for about half a kilometer. Behind that was a row of tall palm trees running roughly east, toward Abu Ghraib. I’d overhead them talking about the prison. And the prison meant a bazillion US marines.

But I’d been too brazen. After several days, a guard came in after breakfast and said, “A man told me yesterday you were looking out the bathroom window.

“You know, I have a very dark place under the ground. It’s cold, with a very small door,” he said, repeating a warning I’d been given my first night in captivity. “There’s no light. I have this place.”

They hammered a tarp across both the bathroom and bedroom windows. The loss of sunlight was devastating. It may not seem like much, but it was hugely demoralizing.

They watched me all the time. Even when it seemed I was alone, there were men with guns just across the hall. I was moved often. I wasn’t sure which direction to run even if I got out. Escape looked impossible. All the things I had imagined about the future – marriage, children – they were just gone. They were just gone, and not going to happen.

(P.G.) Murphy and Peterson weren’t investigators in the law-enforcement sense. They never visited the scene of the kidnapping, as that Baghdad neighborhood was now too dangerous. (Neither did the FBI investigators, who were not allowed to leave the safety of the US-controlled Green Zone without an armed military escort.)

But for almost three months, the two reporters made finding Jill their primary job.

In a way, they became scholars of kidnapping. Dan created a database and drew diagrams of which groups had claimed responsibility for holding which hostages and when, to look for connections. They strategized with the British security firm, the Iraqi police, and the US Embassy’s Hostage Working Group in the Green Zone. They were told aspects of the FBI and US military efforts, but never given the full picture. So, they sifted through cases that might be analogous to Jill’s, to see who had been released and who hadn’t. They looked for things that people on the outside had done that might have helped.

In one instance, the friends of a kidnapped Australian put up posters in the neighborhood where the crime had occurred, pleading for his safety. Murphy and Peterson decided to take that idea and supersize it. They mapped out a three-stage media plan, starting with advertisements in newspapers, then moving to radio news and television public service announcements (PSAs).

Their theme was “Jill Carroll loves Iraq and loves Iraqis. She needs your help. Please help free Jill Carroll.”

Each step built on the previous one. The TV spots – produced with the invaluable help of CNN Baghdad staffers – used the voices of Iraqis themselves (“Oh, she was like a sister to me”) with pictures of Jill in her hijab, quotes from Mary Beth, and, in one, 30 seconds of the Sunni politician Adnan al-Dulaimi calling for her release.

And Iraqi television news directors were generous with donated time.

The point was to get people who might know something to come forward with information. But the Monitor Baghdad Boys knew they were walking a thin line. They wanted to keep Jill in Iraqi minds, as a sympathetic character — making it harder for her captors to kill her. But they didn’t want to be too loud or make her too hot a property. That might raise any ransom demand through the roof. Or, worse, it might cause her kidnappers to believe that they needed to get rid of her, fast – and that death was their best option.

One day, Ink Eyes, my chief captor, arrived for a chat. He sat just outside the doorway, out of my field of vision. I leaned against the wall, knees up, head down. I was afraid to even move.

He started by telling me about Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian who was the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq. He called Zarqawi his “good friend.”

“He’s such a good man…. If you met him, you would like him so much,” Abu Nour said warmly.

But Zarqawi wasn’t the head of the mujahideen any more, Abu Nour told me, he was simply one member of something new: the Mejlis Shura Mujahideen Fil Iraq.

Roughly translated, this was “Mujahideen Shura Council in Iraq.”

The Americans were constantly saying that the mujahideen in Iraq were led by foreigners, he said. So, the Iraqi insurgents went to Zarqawi and insisted that an Iraqi be put in charge.

Zarqawi agreed, the story went. An Iraqi named Abdullah Rashid was the new head of the council.

“You don’t know who is Abdullah Rashid?” said Ink Eyes.

No, I indicated, I didn’t.

“I am Abdullah Rashid!” he said. (See related story.)

I sat there in absolute panic. I couldn’t even move. This man was telling me he was friends with Zarqawi – someone who personally beheaded hostages! And this guy was Zarqawi’s boss? What did this mean?

But as I saw in coming weeks, Zarqawi remained the insurgents’ hero, and the most influential member of their council, whatever Nour/Rashid’s position. And it seemed to me, based on snatches of conversations, that two cell leaders under him – Abu Rasha and Abu Ahmed – might also be on the council.

At various times, I heard my captors discussing changes in their plans because of directives from the council and Zarqawi, including one in Arabic I only partially understood: something about how my case should be resolved “without money and without killing.”

But that night – with the nature of those who held me spelled out for the first time – I lay on my bed motionless in the dark.

“Come, come pray,” I heard Ink Eyes, aka Abu Nour, aka Abdullah Rashid, say in the next room.

Someone else recited the call to prayer. They must all be in there, gathered together.

“Allahu Akbar,” the mujahideen said.

I couldn’t see them, but I knew the identical motions every Sunni Muslim in the world performs in prayer. Now they were standing shoulder to shoulder, hands raised near their faces, palms out.

The wall was like paper. Only a tissue seemed to stand between their devotions to God and me.

“Allahu Akbar,” they said, sighing and quietly grunting as they kneeled on the ground.

“Allahu Akbar,” they repeated, as they rose from prostration. “Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar,” they said, with every movement.

I listened, afraid to breathe. I had to cough, but I suppressed it. I thought, “If I cough during their prayer, maybe they’ll kill me.”

I lay on my back, hands clasped across my stomach. Eventually I dozed off.

Next morning, I woke up in the same position.

That’s the way I woke up every morning in that house – frozen in the position I’d assumed after crawling into bed. I was too afraid to move, even in my sleep.

How to help
(Photograph)
HOWARD LAFRANCHI/THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR

Alan Enwiya is one of nearly 100 journalists and media assistants killed in Iraq since March 2003. Alan (left side of photo) is survived by his wife, Fairuz, his two children, Martin and Mary Ann, and his parents. They have left Iraq and hope to move to the US where they have relatives.

Jill Carroll’s driver, Adnan Abbas, is a witness to Alan’s murder. He, his wife, and their four children (including a newborn) have also fled Iraq for their own safety.

In response to readers, the Monitor has established funds to help each family start a new life. Donations may be sent to:

The Alan Enwiya Fund
c/o The Christian Science Monitor
One Norway Street
Boston, MA 02115

The Adnan Abbas Fund
c/o The Christian Science Monitor
One Norway Street
Boston, MA 02115

Donations can also be made online.

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Part 4 : A mother as suicide bomber

As Jill’s parents make a televised plea, she learns of the zeal of women and children in the Iraqi insurgency.

| Staff writers of The Christian Science Monitor

 

(P.G.) Exhausted, Jim Carroll walked the streets of Washington, headed back to his hotel. He’d hardly eaten all day, so he ducked into a bar for dinner. He hadn’t been there long when his cellphone rang. It was the FBI. They wanted to know the family’s decision.

The previous day, Jan. 17, a video demanding the release of Iraqi women prisoners had aired on Al Jazeera. A 72-hour deadline was given.

This wasn’t going to be pleasant. “We’re not going your way,” Jim told his FBI contact. “We’re going to go with the sympathy statement.”

What do you say to your daughter’s kidnappers? It was a question Carroll felt woefully unqualified to answer. He was a software person, an entrepreneur, not a hostage negotiator. Insurgents had seized Jill Carroll in Baghdad 11 days ago; it was time for her parents to publicly plead for her life. But how? That was something on which experts – all well-meaning – couldn’t agree.

The FBI wanted the father – him – to shake his fist, in essence; to go on TV and address the men who held Jill as murderers and thugs.

In Baghdad, Jill’s colleagues at The Christian Science Monitor thought that would misfire in the Middle East. They said the words should reflect how much Jill’s family loved and missed her. And the message should come from Jill’s mother, Mary Beth.

Well, Jim and Mary Beth and Katie, Jill’s twin sister, had been over this and over this and over it again. They couldn’t thrash any more. Katie insisted that they should trust people Jill trusted; so be it. They’d go with the Monitor’s Baghdad correspondents, and the softer appeal from her mother.

On the other end of the phone, Jim’s FBI contact sounded very unhappy. He was polite, but clear: The bureau did not think this was a good idea. Not a good idea at all.

Jim hung up. He felt he was living in a new world, where you got 1 percent of the data you needed to make a decision, but it didn’t matter; you had to decide anyway, you couldn’t walk away, and you had to do it now, right now – and the price of a misstep might be a vibrant young woman’s life.

Jill’s life.

Despair billowed over him.

(J.C.) As we stood in the small kitchen, Abu Ali, the insurgent with the salt-and-pepper beard who had abducted me, proudly declared that his wife wanted to die.

Um Ali wants to be a martyr. She wants to drive a car bomb!” he said, beaming.

(Photograph)
Sajida Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi: She shows how explosives were strapped to her body, which failed to go off when she and three men entered a Jordanian hotel on Nov. 9, 2005. Related story: Women suicide bombers in Iraq.
REUTERS/Jordan TV

Of course, she’d have to wait, since she was now four months pregnant. It is forbidden in Islam to kill a fetus at that age, he explained.

“Oh, OK, OK, oh wow,” I said. I feigned confusion while I tried to think of what to say.

The chaos of dinner preparation swirled around us. The kitchen was typically Iraqi: a cramped space with thin metal countertops that have no cabinets beneath.

Someone had sewed a skirt for the countertop out of gaudy fabric, but one part had torn away. Next to the refrigerator was a giant freezer, covered all over with stickers advertising Maggi-brand soups.

Three children played around our feet – all progeny of the would-be bomber.

I was still unused to captivity, still learning the boundaries, both physical and mental, that my kidnappers had imposed. I didn’t want to offend. But I was shocked at the talk of a mother’s suicide; shocked that Um Ali would blush at her husband’s praise of this plan.

“Oh, I didn’t know women could be car bombers,” was all I could muster.

Later I was told that this was the only way women could be part of the mujahideen. The men could have the glory of fighting in battle. Women got to blow themselves up.

Meanwhile, the big silver platters of food were ready. Men carried them out to the group of insurgents meeting behind the closed door of the sitting room. Based on their comments, this house seemed to be in western Baghdad or near Abu Ghraib (view interactive map).

I talked with Um Ali and other women in the kitchen. Yes, I traveled back and forth between countries for my job, I said. They replied that it was wrong for them to work, that they left school at age 12 to learn to cook and keep house.

Then the dinner platters returned, with the food ravaged – rice everywhere, bones with the chicken chewed off, nothing left but scraps, really.

And the women sat and began to eat the scraps.

I couldn’t believe it! After all the time they’d spent preparing the meal, they got leftovers.

But I sat down with them. And, as I would often do with women over the next three months, I ate from the remains of the communal stew.

(Photograph)

(P.G.) It was a surreal experience. Alone in the Al Jazeera television studio, Jim Carroll stared at the camera, aware that at any moment it would switch on and broadcast his image around the world. He didn’t want that image to be him scratching his nose, so he stayed unnaturally still as the minutes ticked away.

A day earlier, Mary Beth had appeared on CNN, making the family’s first televised response to the kidnappers’ demands. “They’ve picked the wrong person … if they’re looking for someone who is an enemy of Iraq,” she said, adding to her scripted statement. (Read the statement).

Now, it was Jim’s turn.

Finally, after a quarter of an hour, the light blipped, and, on Jan. 20, Jill Carroll’s father made his global TV debut. Live, for the 6:00 a.m. news feed in the Middle East.

“I want to speak directly to the men holding my daughter Jill because they also may be fathers like me….”

When he left the studio after finishing, the woman who had produced the shoot came up to him. Tears were running down her cheeks. “Bingo,” thought Jim. His message appeared to have gotten through. Maybe other tears were running down other cheeks right now, in Iraq.

It had been a busy week. Three days ago, the first video of Jill as a hostage had appeared on Al Jazeera; she’d looked tired and stressed.

On the positive side, the video had been followed by an outpouring of statements calling for Jill’s release, from Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, Iraq’s Muslim Scholars Association, and Sunni political leader Adnan al-Dulaimi, among others. In Baghdad, Monitor reporter Dan Murphy had been on the phone working his contacts in the Arab world, tapping into a growing disapproval of insurgents taking innocent civilians.

(Photograph)
EGYPT: Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Mahdi Akef. Read statements made on Jill’s behalf.
REUTERS/STRINGER

Mr. Dulaimi perhaps was a particularly important catch. Jill had been seeking to interview him just prior to her abduction. Some Westerners in Baghdad suspected that he, or someone who worked in his office, had been involved in the crime.

Jim was worn out by the struggle over family statements. That had been intense. The FBI’s position – that it was best the father talk strongly in a man-to-man manner – was the considered opinion of bureau counterterror experts, who’d tested it before focus groups of Arabs. Iraq was a male-dominated society, after all.

But the Monitor’s correspondents in Baghdad, plus the British security firm there, thought that approach was culturally insensitive. Iraqi men revere their mothers, they insisted, so the first appeal should come from Mary Beth. And it should depict Jill, not as a lone adult, but as the missing piece of a family – another point they felt would appeal to Iraqi hearts.

In the end the family opted for the mother-first tactics. A day after Mary Beth’s appearance, Jim made his own televised appeal, albeit with words watered down from the FBI’s language. He appeared on both Al Jazeera, the most popular Arabic network, and its more reserved competitor, Al Arabiya.

Neither Mary Beth nor Jim were afraid of the camera. But they were afraid of saying the wrong thing.

In her first appearance, Mary Beth took a few questions, and in answering one said that Jill was a good “ambassador” for Iraq, since she’d reported the struggles of Iraqis’ daily lives. But later someone told her that the word “ambassador,” in Arabic, translates as “government official,” not “general emissary.” And the last thing the family wanted to imply was that Jill worked for any government.

So the family limited media appearances to scripted statements. They asked friends not to speak to the press. Almost without exception, their friends complied, with some even slamming the door on reporters.

But for all their attention to the subject, there was one important thing about their appearances that Jim and Mary Beth didn’t know: Would Jill’s captors be watching?

(J.C.) Held against my will, I learned more about Iraqi insurgents than I would have dreamed possible. On one level, I got a firsthand look at the way they live. While I was imprisoned alone in rooms for long periods, I was also allowed to mix with insurgent families in some of the houses where I was held. I even played with their youngest children – a small joy that helped me endure.

On another level, I heard a lot about what they think, both about themselves and the US. I wanted them to see me as more valuable alive than dead, so I told them that as a reporter I could write their story if I was freed.

(Photograph)
ILLUSTRATION BY JILLIAN TAMAKI

They seized on this idea, perhaps to a degree I hadn’t anticipated. After dinner, some of the men drew up plastic chairs in a walkway area in the middle of the house and held an impromptu press conference – minus questions, and with me as the lone member of the press.

They insisted that they weren’t terrorists, that they were just defending their country against an occupation. They had nothing against Americans, they said. It was the US government that was their enemy.

“If you come to us as a guest to our country, we will open all of our homes to you and feed you and you are welcome,” said one of the men that night. “But if you come to us as an enemy, we will drink your blood and there will not be one of you left standing.”

I hoped the little briefing would help establish my persona as a reporter. To placate them, I’d memorized verses in the Koran. But I never seriously considered the idea of converting. As I learned more about this brand of Islam, and the life of women tied by marriage or family to the insurgency, the more convinced I was that I couldn’t even pretend to convert. As long as I was seen as a reporter and a Christian woman, I figured they might tolerate my missteps. But if I acquiesced to conversion, even if it was insincere, would a “good Muslim” – like Um Ali – also be required to embrace martyrdom?

At moments like this, I thought they were becoming more comfortable with me. Perhaps they wouldn’t kill me.

Um Ali’s son, Bakr, was 3 years old, cute, and spoiled rotten. He’d jump in my lap, and we’d play a little game: He’d put his nose against mine, his head against my head, and we would whisper really quietly together, him in Arabic, me in English. In the early days of my captivity, we’d do it often, and I’d look in his little eyes, and it really comforted me. It felt so good just to hug somebody.

Still, getting through each hour was an accomplishment. Every day was so long. Um Ali would do something nice, like bring me some tea, and I’d try to react normally. But then I’d remember that they’d killed Alan, my interpreter.

That refrain was constantly in my head: Don’t be fooled, Jill. They killed Alan. Don’t be fooled.

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