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Slipping into the aftermath of the recent Iranian hostage crisis, the officials and citizenry of Britain, the soldiers who were held against their will and their families who likely slept little during the nearly 15 day ordeal, are understandably all breathing a collective sigh of relief as the former captives arrive home for tearful reunions and military debriefs (as well as the unsurprising truth that is currently coming to light.) While Prime Minister Tony Blair claims no deals were proffered in order to secure release for the British soldiers, and I tend to accept that as highly probable, we likely won’t know what exactly transpired behind the Persian curtain to enable this thankfully positive outcome. All we have is Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s “Easter gift” explanation.

It’s darned nice of Ahmadinejad to offer Britain (and from his point of view, the Western world especially the United States) this “Easter gift” despite the explicit fact that he is the relative leader of an Islamic republic that rejects outright any notion of The New Testament, Jesus Christ, and the resurrection, let alone cute bunnies and colored eggs. By saying this, he only continues his mocking rhetoric, thumbing his nose not only at the west, but at Christianity as well. Ahmadinejad is not some student neo-hippy who took his first philosophy course and suddenly he converted to atheism because it’s the hip thing to do. This is the president of a country whose ruling hierarchy, most notably embodied in the elderly form of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is purely evil and presents the greatest danger to any stability in the Middle East and the world in general due to their extremist Islamic beliefs. Happy Easter indeed.

Despite Mahmoud’s generous and gracious holiday surprise (what a top notch humanitarian), there lingers the question as to why Iran felt the need to abduct the British soldiers in the first place and at that particular time. Was it a direct response to the detention of Iranians in Iraq by U.S. forces back in mid January? While a convenient excuse, that is probably not the case. Assuming the 15 British troops were indeed in Iraqi waters as is most likely the case, on the surface the abduction at best is a testing of the waters so to speak. At worst, it would appear to have been an act of war.

For the most part, the Iranian people are, to say the least, rather disdainful of their current governmental superiors and the path by which they have been led (no need to go into the epidemic of torture and filet-o-tongue style enforcement methods.) The administration of Iran, under the leadership of Ahmadinejad, Khamenei, et. al. have accomplished nothing for their country but increased international censure, diplomatic condemnation, United Nations economic sanctions, and all around general isolation from the world community at large all because they simply want to turn a little weapons grade uranium into a nuclear missile in order to nuke Israel. Sounds like a party to me.

So were the international pressures and economic sanctions actually doing any good? Most likely, as evidenced in the capture and two week internment of the British soldiers. Yet how are sanctions in anyway related to taking hostages? In my estimation, and in this case, they were closely related.

Early last Summer Iran, through its puppet organization Hezbollah, orchestrated and perpetrated a very similar stunt by kidnapping a few IDF soldiers, placing newly instituted Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert into the awkward position of fight or flight. Perceptibly, Ahmadinejad with the backing of the clerics, were testing the resolve of Olmert. Unfortunately, the ultimate failure in that 2006 Israeli-Lebanese conflict (also known as The July War) of Olmert not only strengthened the resolve of Hezbollah specifically and Islamic fundamentalists throughout the Middle East generally, but the failure of the Iranian pop-quiz demonstrated Israel’s faltering infallibility in the face of European and eventually American pressure to stand down–captured Israeli soldiers were not worth the added tumult a prolonged conflict would generate throughout the region. An “F” for Israel and a “D-” for Europe and the United States.

Nearly a year later, Iran once again evaluates the resolve of the West, this time kidnapping and holding hostage the 15 British military personnel. Whereas the first test was squarely directed at Olmert and Israel within the Middle East, this exam would scrutinize the will of Tony Blair and the people of England, our closest and most important ally. For thirteen days Blair did little to encourage his people that matters concerning the return of their hostages from Iran were being efficiently, effectively, and quickly dealt with, at least outwardly. Instead, what the world witnessed was a man flummoxed by the ongoing situation who, through his inability to act in any relevant and purposeful manner, managed to appear wholly capitulating to those who held illegally captive citizens of England. At the very least, Blair proved his worth as an eloquent press secretary by frequently appearing before news cameras, emitting streams of self-demoralizing sententious pronouncements that seemed to do nothing but embolden the Iranian captors on a daily basis. Is it any wonder then Blair appeared more than little confounded when the announcement came down of the soldiers’ release? An “F” for Britain and a “D-” for the West.

What do to these two kidnapping events teach Iran? At this point, it proves to Ahmadinejad that two of their biggest worries, Israel and England (Europe was lost years ago) have little to no will for a fight. While I do not necessarily condone war as was the case with Israel and Lebanon last Summer, neither do I completely rule out military action if diplomacy is obviously going the way of the Dodo.

At this point, Iran is basking in the warm glow of their prodigious accomplishments, at least from their perspective. Despite the fact that sanctions may in fact be working, as is evidently the case partly resulting from their desperate and despicable actions two weeks ago and the aforementioned prequel last Summer in Lebanon, Iran has been given a nuclear reprieve–more time to enrich additional uranium and further destabilize an already chaotic expanse in desperate need of sensible guidance all around.

Unfortunately the Middle East does not get sensible guidance. Instead, it gets Nancy Pelosi. Whether one believes she had the right to travel to such a volatile region in order to conduct international diplomacy with various heads of state including the above mentioned Ehud Olmert and current Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad (whose father, Hafez al-Assad grew to infamy for butchering upwards of 30,000 of his own people in the city of Hama back in 1982), there is no doubt that her presence did nothing but complicate the hostage situation in Iran, perhaps even legitimizing the acts committed by Ahmadinejad and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard because of her flagrant disregard of President Bush’s express wishes to stay away from the area entirely.

Whether she broke the law by making the trip in opposition to Bush is immaterial to this discussion. What she did accomplish was the creation of a wake of confusion with every step she took throughout the Middle East. How does one so dense manage to become one of the central leaders of the most powerful nation on the planet? Considering George W. Bush has managed two terms in office, it’s not difficult to understand the how and the why.

Make no mistake. Nancy Pelosi knows next to nothing concerning foreign policy, particularly in the turbulent Middle East. This is most clearly evidenced in her appointment of Representative Silvestre Reyes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. To see what I mean, go here. If she knew anything about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or Hamas or Hezbollah or the Muslim Brotherhood or Islamic Jihad, she would never have so egregiously misinterpreted and twisted a conversation she participated in with Ehud Olmert to mean that Israel was currently prepared to resume peace talks with Syria when in fact that was not and is not the case. Still, that’s what she told Assad (Olmert strongly censured and distanced himself from Pelosi’s comment to Assad, correcting Pelosi on her ridiculous faux paux), the leader of Syria, a country who’s administration is one of the central providers of weapons to Hezbollah, who supports training for Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and who as an agent of Iran wishes and works towards the unilateral annihilation of Israel. By proxy, this is what Nancy Pelosi is working towards. By proxy, Iran and Syria are who Nancy Pelosi is working with. Shameful doesn’t even begin to cover it.

So why the irresponsible and simple-minded Pelosi makes nice with those who not only seek the destruction of Israel, but of the west and the United States as well, we can be sure that her actions and tactless comments with state supporters of terrorism will certainly embolden and legitimize the concepts of the Islamic state and sharia law, and all of the repressions and curtailed freedoms that come with them. What a nice “Easter gift.”

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Nancy Pelosi colludes with a terrorist tyrant


Posted: April 5, 2007
9:09 p.m. Eastern


Speaker Nancy Pelosi in Syria

It is frankly astounding to me that people aren’t making a bigger deal of the colossal impropriety of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s unauthorized trip to Syria. Where is the outrage?

I realize Democratic leaders and those they answer to have unmitigated contempt for President Bush. I realize they believe the public rewarded their hatred and their anti-war posturing in the November congressional elections.

But according to the latest news reports, President Bush is still in office. This means he is still commander in chief and primarily in charge of U.S. foreign policy.

Democrats have long been opposed to the administration’s stern policy toward terrorist-sponsoring states like Iran and Syria. They apparently believe their evil tyrants mean well, and if we will just open a dialogue with them, we can build a lasting peace. After all, the vaunted Iraq Surrender Group recommended that very thing.

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Terrorists endorse Pelosi’s ‘good policy of dialogue’
Militants call House speaker’s visit ‘brave’ and hope for talks with Iran


Posted: April 4, 2007
2:14 p.m. Eastern
By Aaron Klein
© 2007 WorldNetDaily.com


U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

JERUSALEM – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit today to Syria – in which she called for dialogue with Damascus – was “brave” and “very appreciated” and could bring about “important changes” to America’s foreign policy, including talks with “Middle East resistance groups,” according to members of terror organizations here whose top leaders live in Syria.

One terror leader, Khaled Al-Batch, a militant and spokesman for Islamic Jihad, expressed hope Pelosi would continue winning elections, explaining the House speaker’s Damascus visit demonstrated she understands the Middle East.

Pelosi’s visit was opposed by President Bush, who called Syria a “state sponsor of terror.”

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PMO denies peace message to Assad

The Prime Minister’s Office issued a rare “clarification” Wednesday that, in gentle diplomatic terms, contradicted US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s statement in Damascus that she had brought a message from Israel about a willingness to engage in peace talks.

According to the statement, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert emphasized in his meeting with Pelosi on Sunday that “although Israel is interested in peace with Syria, that country continues to be part of the Axis of Evil and a force that encourages terror in the entire Middle East.”

Olmert, the statement clarified, told Pelosi that Syria’s sincerity about a genuine peace with Israel would be judged by its willingness to “cease its support of terror, cease its sponsoring of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad organizations, refrain from providing weapons to Hizbullah and bringing about the destabilizing of Lebanon, cease its support of terror in Iraq, and relinquish the strategic ties it is building with the extremist regime in Iran.”

The statement said Olmert had not communicated to Pelosi any change in Israeli policy on Damascus.

Pelosi, who met in Damascus with Syrian President Bashar Assad over the objections of US President George W. Bush, said she brought a message to Assad from Olmert saying that Israel was ready for peace talks.

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The man within the red circle is believed to be Mahmoud Ahmedinejad during the Iran Hostage Crisis that began November 4, 1979.

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CAIR Press Release – BLOGGER ARRESTED FOR CRITICIZING ISLAM!

Well, that’s a bit of a lie. I don’t think any bloggers, journalists, writers, etc. have been arrested at this time simply for criticizing Islam (though several have certainly received death threats resulting from their stance concerning Islam and the teachings of the Qur’an.) Of course, I’m referring to arrests only in the United States, and there have been none at this point (just don’t plan on doing any blogging in Egypt.) However, if CAIR continues to construct the slippery slope they have been fervently building, especially since 9/11, while more and more U.S. politicians arise who are either radical Islamic supporters or dhimmi politicians (legion) who, through their apologia and capitulating tendencies, contribute to that fallacious waterslide, I do not doubt that America may one day soon be witness to Islamic persecution of free speech and those who defy the CAIR mandate by exercising their right to speak out in defiance of politically correct appeasement in all things Muslim.

For now though, The Council on American-Islamic Relations must be content to simply punish the vigilant citizens who by random coincidence happened to have purchased a seat on the same plane with six imams who recklessly acted out intentionally (and I will even say maliciously) in order illicit the response they were obviously hoping for from the other passengers on flight 300–circumspectly uneasy. As a result not only has CAIR pronounced their intentions against US Airways and the Minnesota Metropolitan Airports Commission, but their apparent veridical scheme lies buried deep within the verbiage of the lawsuit itself. They are suing several of the November 20 US Airways flight passengers whose diligence assisted in escorting the Islamic clerics off of the plane.

Yet the suspicions and subsequent actions taken by those passengers and the flight crew were more than appropriate, and I doubt there are many who would react differently if presented a similar situation. Of course, the understandable passenger relfex is exactly the reaction CAIR was most likely hoping for so they could then proceed with a lawsuit that will attempt to annihilate racial/religious profiling for Muslims in airports, et al.

So were the flying imams really racially or religiously discriminated against? Of course not. If those six, presumably mature adult men would have simply boarded the aircraft and taken their assigned seats (they took up positions mirroring the terrorists of the 9/11 attacks), without causing the accompanying choreographed ruckus they ended up perpetrating, then nothing would have happened.

It was not the staff of US Airways or the other passengers who racially and religiously profiled and persecuted the imams; it was the imams themselves who flew their own bigoted colors by purposefully discriminating against themselves with their bizarre and contemptible stunt.

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The Real Target of the 6 Imams’ Discrimination Suit

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007 The “flying imams’ ” federal lawsuit, filed this week in Minneapolis, has made headlines around the country. The imams are demanding unspecified damages from US Airways and the Metropolitan Airports Commission, both with deep pockets. But their suit includes other defendants, as yet unnamed. These people, unaffiliated with the airline industry or government, are among the imams’ most vulnerable targets.

Recall the November 2006 incident that gave rise to the suit. The imams engaged in a variety of suspicious behaviors while boarding a US Airways flight, according to the airport police report. Some prayed loudly in the gate area, spoke angrily about the United States and Saddam, switched seats and sat in the 9/11 hijackers’ configuration, and unnecessarily requested seatbelt extenders that could be used as weapons, according to witness reports and US Airways spokeswoman Andrea Rader.

After extensive consultations, the pilot asked authorities to remove the imams for questioning, which they did, releasing them later that day.

“The pilot did what he had to do,” passenger Rita Snelson of Maplewood told the Star Tribune. “I told the airline afterward, ‘Thank you for watching over us.’ ”

The imams’ lawsuit, however, asserts that US Airways and the MAC acted solely out of religious and ethnic discrimination. It includes 17 separate counts.

It also rehearses a catalogue of harms allegedly suffered by the imams, including fear, depression, mental pain and financial injury. They have not only endured exhaustion, humiliation and ridicule, but also have lost sleep and developed anxiety about flying.

Their lawsuit appears to be the latest component in a national campaign to intimidate airlines and government agencies from acting prudently to ensure passenger safety. The Council on American-Islamic Relations, which is advising the imams, is also calling for congressional hearings and promoting federal legislation to “end racial profiling” in air travel. If the legislation passes, airport personnel who disproportionately question passengers who are Muslim or of Middle Eastern origin could be subject to sanctions.

But the most alarming aspect of the imams’ suit is buried in paragraph 21 of their complaint. It describes “John Doe” defendants whose identity the imams’ attorneys are still investigating. It reads: “Defendants ‘John Does’ were passengers … who contacted U.S. Airways to report the alleged ’suspicious’ behavior of Plaintiffs’ performing their prayer at the airport terminal.”

Paragraph 22 adds: “Plaintiffs will seek leave to amend this Complaint to allege true names, capacities, and circumstances supporting [these defendants’] liability … at such time as Plaintiffs ascertain the same.”

In plain English, the imams plan to sue the “John Does,” too.

Who are these unnamed culprits? The complaint describes them as “an older couple who was sitting [near the imams] and purposely turn[ed] around to watch” as they prayed. “The gentleman (’John Doe’) in the couple … picked up his cellular phone and made a phone call while watching the Plaintiffs pray,” then “moved to a corner” and “kept talking into his cellular phone.”

In retribution for this action, the unnamed couple probably will be dragged into court soon and face the prospect of hiring a lawyer, enduring hostile questioning and paying huge legal bills. The same fate could await other as-yet-unnamed passengers on the US Airways flight who came forward as witnesses.

The imams’ attempt to bully ordinary passengers marks an alarming new front in the war on airline security. Average folks, “John Does” like you and me, initially observed and reported the imams’ suspicious behavior on Nov. 20. Such people are our “first responders” against terrorism. But the imams’ suit may frighten such individuals into silence, as they seek to avoid the nightmare of being labeled bigots and named as defendants.

Ironically, on the day the imams filed their suit, a troubling internal memo came to light at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. The memo revealed that our airport is at particular risk of terrorist attack because of its proximity to the Mall of America, its employment of relatively few security officers and other factors. The memo advised heightened vigilance to counter “this very real and deliberate threat.”

The imams may not be the only ones losing sleep and growing more afraid of flying.

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osama bin laden

Fuck you, Sheik Taj el-Dene Elhilaly. Seriously, fuck you. No, really. I mean it. Fuck you, you pustule on the ass of humanity. May you die a thousands deaths and spend an eternity in hell being gang raped by long-beared muslim men.

I know I’m over reacting. I mean, I don’t really wish that upon him, but the guy is a serious asshole. At the very least, it is my hope that the outcry for Elhilaly’s deportation is so great that Prime Minister Howard will have no choice but to kick his hate-mongering ass out of the country.

Fuck you, Sheik Taj el-Dene Elhilaly.

Imam justifies rape of unveiled women

Australian cleric compares victims to ‘uncovered meat’ that attracts cats

Australia’s top Muslim cleric rationalized a series of gang rapes by Arab men, blaming women who “sway suggestively,” wear make-up and don’t cover themselves in the tradition of Islam.


Sheik Ibrahim Mogra with Sheik Taj el-Dene Elhilaly. (Courtesy Sydney Daily Telegraph)

Sheik Taj el-Dene Elhilaly’s comments in a Ramadan sermon in a Sydney mosque have stirred a furor in the country with even Prime Minister John Howard weighing in with condemnation.

The cleric also said the judge in the case, who sentenced the rapists, had “no mercy.”

“But the problem, but the problem all began with who?” he said, referring to the women victims – whom he said were “weapons used by Satan.”

The victims of the vicious gang rapes are leading the national outcry – with some calling for deportation of the sheik. In a Sydney Daily Telegraph online poll, 84 percent of people said the Egyptian-born sheik should be deported.

“If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it … whose fault is it, the cats or the uncovered meat?” the sheik said in his sermon. “The uncovered meat is the problem. If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab, no problem would have occurred.”

A 16-year-old girl, whose gang rape investigation was the subject of a secret police report, issued an open letter yesterday.

“You are a sad person who has no understanding of what really happens when these people inflict harm and degrading acts upon me or any other young girl,” she said.

Initially, the mufti of Australia would not back away from his comments. But today he apologized.

“I unreservedly apologize to any woman who is offended by my comments,” he said in a statement. “I had only intended to protect women’s honor.”

Howard said the sheik’s remarks were “appalling and reprehensible.”

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“Missed opportunity” doesn’t even begin to describe the debacle that the Islamic world has yet again perpetrated in the name of their prophet Muhammad.

Provided to the Muslim faithful, courtesy of the major representation of Christian faith embodied in Catholicism and specifically the Pope, is the perfect occasion to demonstrate to the rest of the planet and particularly the west, how they can truly represent themselves in a civilized manner by taking this opportunity to protest peacefully their chagrin at the perceived slight by Benedict XVI.

Instead, they riot. Muslims throughout the Mideast and southeast Asia have taken to the streets, committed violence against others–particularly Christians. A jihad has already become inevitable according to many radical Islamists, including Al Qaeda.

Perhaps the Pope should have used a little more discernment before reciting the ancient text where from he drew words denouncing Islam and particularly the prophet Muhammad as “evil,” because as expected, the Muslim world has grossly over reacted to an intent that may or may not have even been there in the first place. Even more, a little spiritual discernment probably would have benefited the Pope far more than intellectual discernment. I’m reaching wildly here, but if the Pope would have consulted his boss first, if he would have really thought about the torment that could be caused as a result of his actions, I think he might have approached the subject differently. Did he not recall the anarchy that ensued after political cartoons depicting Muhammad appeared in European newspapers?

Regardless, Muslims have yet again proven their readiness to embrace violence as a means to denounce those who give them slight. It benefits them little, while continuing to alienate their faith and ideals even further to the western world. It makes me sad for them.

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Pope’s apology fails to quell Muslim anger

Mon Sep 18, 1:01 PM ET

Pope Benedict XVI’s apology for remarks seen as critical of Islam, have failed to quell anger in the Muslim world as Iraqis burned him in effigy and Al-Qaeda in Iraq vowed to “smash the cross.”

Despite appeals for calm from Islamic and Western leaders, protests were held from Indonesia to Iraq over the pope’s citing of a medieval text last week that criticised some teachings of the Prophet Mohammed as “evil and inhuman.”

The leader of the world’s 1.1 billion Roman Catholics said he was “deeply sorry” Sunday for the offense caused by his remarks and the Vatican launched a diplomatic offensive to explain to Muslim countries his position on Islam.

A handful of Muslim groups welcomed the 79-year-old pope’s apology but it failed to stem the tide of anger in many Muslim nations.

Mohammed Habib of Egypt’s opposition Muslim Brotherhood said they considered the apology a retraction of the pope’s statement, but some Egyptian lawmakers demanded diplomatic ties with the Vatican be suspended.

The powerful All India Muslim Personal Law Board based in the northern city of Lucknow called for an end to protests against the Vatican but demonstrations were held elsewhere.

In Jakarta, some 100 hardliners rallied outside the Holy See’s mission in the Indonesian capital, waving a banner depicting the Vatican as an “axis of Satan.”

Some 150 protestors from a youth party marched through the Pakistani Kashmiri capital Muzaffarabad chanting “Death to Pope” and burned him in effigy.

The pope was also burned in effigy in this southern Iraqi port city where hundreds of Iraqis staged a demonstration on Monday and called for an apology.

The 500 protestors, followers of Ayatollah Mahmud al-Hassani, a mystical Shiite Muslim cleric, also burned German and American flags and called for the pope to be tried in an international court.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq warned in an Internet statement Monday it would wage jihad, or holy war, until the West is defeated.

“We say to the servant of the cross (the pope): wait for defeat… We say to infidels and tyrants: wait for what will afflict you. We continue our jihad,” said the statement attributed to the Mujahedeen consultative council.

“We will smash the cross,” it added, and “conquer Rome.”

Another armed group linked to Al-Qaeda, Ansar al-Sunna (Partisans of the Precepts of the Prophet), denounced the pope as “Satan’s hellhound.”

In Tehran, Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei compared the pope’s remarks to caricatures published in a Danish newspaper last year deemed insulting to the Prophet Mohammed. The cartoons set off deadly protests in the Muslim world.

“The issue of insulting cartoons and remarks of some politicians about Islam are different links in the conspiracy of the crusaders and the pope’s remarks are the latest links in this,” Khamenei said.

In Jordan, a government spokesman said the pope’s apology was a “positive step in the right direction” but “we expect more steps.”

Morroco’s King Mohammed VI, who recalled his ambassador to the Vatican, called on the pontiff to demonstrate his respect for Muslim beliefs. “I’m speaking to you as head of the Catholic Church to ask you to have the same respect for Islam that you vow to other beliefs,” he said.

In the Gulf, newspapers continued to slam the pope with Saudi Arabia’s Al-Yom saying his comments were more than “an ordinary blunder requiring an apology.”

The Vatican sought meanwhile to reach out to Muslims.

Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone told the Corriere della Sera that Vatican ambassadors had been asked to explain to political and religious authorities in Muslim countries the full text of the pope’s speech, which they said had been taken out of context and “heavily manipulated.”

Other appeals for calm came from the European Commission, which condemned “disproportionate” reaction to the pope’s remarks, and French President Jacques Chirac, who warned against “anything that increases tensions between peoples or religions.”

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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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