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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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Part 10 • Freedom

Make another video, Jill is told, and you’ll be let go. But she doesn’t believe it until they give her a gold necklace and eight $100 bills.

| Staff writers of The Christian Science Monitor

(P.G.) The evening of March 29, Katie Carroll went to a party with some of her friends. Earlier that day, she had gone on the Arab satellite television network, Al Arabiya, to plead for her sister’s life.

When she got home that night, Katie imagined – as she had before – how great it would be if the phone would ring, and she would answer it, and it would be Jill, and this would all be over.

Just like that.

• • •

(J.C.) Little Hajar toddled away from the sagging bookcase holding a chapter of the Koran in her hand. She was heading for the foot-pedaled sewing machine, where a shiny candy wrapper had caught her attention.

She grabbed the wrapper, then showed me her treasures. She wasn’t yet 2 years old and was so small that our eyes were at the same level as I sat cross-legged on the floor of the house west of Fallujah. I’d been here almost two weeks and March was almost over.

“What’s that? What’s that? Oooh, wow,” I said, admiringly.

Hajar was great to play with despite the fact that her dress-and-jacket outfits were often smeared with yogurt or other messy food. Sometimes she’d bang on the door of my room to be let in. She was my only friend, the one person in this mujahideen household not responsible for my captivity.

This time, as the candy wrapper sparkled in her hand, the door suddenly opened. I looked up, expecting to see Hajar’s mother or father coming to bring me tea or food as usual.

Instead, I glimpsed Abu Nour‘s visage as he entered. As always, the leader of these mujahideen had come out of nowhere, like an apparition. I cast my eyes to the ground, afraid he’d think I knew too much about his face.

Hajar collapsed into the velveteen of my dishdasha tunic and buried her face in it, afraid of this stranger.

“I know how ya feel, kid,” I thought as I stroked her fine hair and small, motionless back.

What did Ink Eyes want? I hadn’t seen him for three weeks. He’d promised then that he would release me in three days – a promise that had been just as worthless as the many other times he’d vowed I was on the brink of freedom.

I had learned to stop believing the promises, to protect myself from that terrible tease called hope.

I used to cling to every word Abu Nour said, analyzing them for days afterward for any hint of my fate. Now, after almost three months of captivity, I just didn’t have the mental energy to do that anymore.

Instead, all I wanted was to minimize pain and have good days. A few minutes of playing with a child or helping women in the kitchen was an attainable goal. Seeing my family again – that was impossibly far away, a dream.

I stroked Hajar’s hair, only half-listening to Abu Nour drone on. I just wished he would go so Hajar and I could resume our game.

“Well, today is Monday, and tomorrow is Tuesday,” Abu Nour was saying. “So maybe in three days we’ll let you go.”

Twenty-four hours before my release he would return and we could have a final conversation about the mujahideen, he added.

I’d heard all this a million times.

“Oh thank you, sir,” I said, trying to smile as he left.

“Yeah, right,” I thought. “Don’t listen to him. Don’t get your hopes up, Jill. Just don’t do it.”

This was my theory: They were worried about my mental state. Since my bitter blow-ups with the Muj Brothers, Abu Qarrar and Abu Hassan, the mujahideen seemed to think I was fragile. Abu Nour hadn’t seen me in awhile, and he had just come to say hello. Maybe he thought a dose of false hope would keep me from doing something drastic.

It was late March. “Dad’s birthday is May 6,” I thought. “If they let me out before May 6, that will be OK. That’s all I really want.”

Abu Nour had come on Monday. Tuesday was OK: I got to play with Hajar. Then Wednesday came around. I can’t remember why, but I lost it.

I sobbed the whole day. Quietly, so they wouldn’t hear me. I was so tired, so worn out. I’d been fooling myself, thinking some days were happy. It had been three months and I was drifting further and further away from my family, from my life. Enough was enough. “Let me out!” I screamed to myself. “Let me out!”

That night, I was sitting in my room in the dark, all upset. And I heard Abu Nour’s voice.

They brought me into the sitting room after dinner. As always, I smelled his distinctive cologne before I saw him. Abu Nour sat cross-legged on the floor, his head bent toward the ground.

He had told me he was going to come back 24 hours before I was released.

“Tomorrow morning, we’re going to let you go,” he said. “We’re going to drive you to the Iraqi Islamic Party and you will call your newspaper and you will be free.”

I had no reaction. He might as well have said, “Here, have some tea.”

Then came the catch: I needed to make one more video. And I needed to forget much of what he had told me about himself and his group, as well as much of what I had seen.

I had to forget about the Majlis, or council, of mujahideen that he had claimed to lead. I had to say his group was medium-sized, not big, not small.

“You can’t talk about the women and children,” said Ink Eyes. “You have to say you were in one room the whole time and … you were treated very well.”

I was supposed to “interview” him one last time, and he would tell me what I was supposed to say to the world. He handed me a notebook in which I was to write down his words.

(Photograph)
JILLIAN TAMAKI

“Anything outside the notebook is forbidden,” he said.

Abu Nour wanted to make the video that night, but the power went out. So we made it in the morning. I didn’t know then that within a day it would be on the Internet.

After the filming, they put me back in my little room. The night before, they’d told me that they would pay me for my computer, which they would keep, and that they would bring me a gift.

Abu Rasha, the large man who served as the head of the mujahideen cell I spent most of my time with, once had told me that when they let me go, they would give me a gold necklace, just as they had done for Giuliana Sgrena, an Italian journalist who’d been kidnapped in Baghdad in early 2005 and held for a month.

I still wasn’t excited. Money and gold, that was my ticket to freedom. I figured that if they did give me those things, then the end might truly be at hand.

Abu Nour said goodbye. I stammered out some kind of reply. Then I waited, and waited. Finally, the woman of the house rushed in with new clothes for me to wear. There weren’t proper shoes, so she gave me her own black high-heeled patent leather sandals. They fit perfectly.

They rushed me into a car waiting outside. I still didn’t have gold. I still didn’t have money. I began to panic.

Abu Rasha was next to me in the back seat. He leaned over me, or so it felt, as I panted, blind, beneath three black scarves.

“Jill, we asked the Americans for the women prisoners and there were none,” he said. Normally his voice was slow and quiet; now it was loud.

“Oh,” I said, crouched in darkness, blind, hot, and breathless.

“And then we asked the government for money, and they gave us none,” he said.

“Oh yes, I know,” I said.

“Now we’re going to kill you,” he said, agitated and close to my head.

I thought they were going to do it. I imagined the gun. All they’d told me that day had been lies.

I knew I couldn’t be afraid. I had to make them think they were good people who weren’t capable of killing me.

I forced a laugh.

“No, Abu Rasha, you’re my brother, you wouldn’t do that!” I said, trying to keep the desperation out of my voice.

He laughed, more convincingly than me. “No, we’re not going to kill you,” he said. “We’re going to take you to the Iraqi Islamic Party and drop you off.”

I went limp. Tired, frozen, spent, I didn’t know what was going on anymore. I couldn’t make sense, couldn’t analyze. I had nothing left.

We drove and drove and drove. They kept calling on cellphones to the car ahead, to make sure the way was clear. Finally, Abu Rasha told me to lift my scarves and keep my eyes straight down. He started placing $100 bills in my hand. For my computer, I got $400, and then another $400 for my trouble.

Then he said, “Oh yes, we got you this,” and shoved a box into my narrow field of vision. He opened it and pulled out a gold necklace, with a pendant attached.

The money. The gold. Maybe they were really going to let me go.

We switched cars. I was in the front seat, with Abu Rasha driving. He began a monologue, angrier than anything I had ever heard from him. He spewed venom and expletives in English at the American military and government. He railed against the occupation, the war, and the Abu Ghraib prison.

I assured him that I wouldn’t tell the US military or American government that I was free, and I meant it. I would only call my journalist friends to come get me and have them drive me to the airport.

(Photograph)
View the neighborhood where Jill was dropped off and the Iraqi Islamic Party office where she was taken in our interactive map.

I had spent nearly three months feverishly trying to convince my captors that I wasn’t a CIA agent. If I was dropped off and immediately sought help from US officials, the mujahideen would assume that I really was a spy, I thought.

And I was afraid of what they then might do. The mujahideen had done everything they could to drill this message into my head over the past three months: They were omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. There was no escape from them, even in the Green Zone. Maybe not even in the US.

Abu Nour had once told me they had eyes everywhere, and that they’d be watching me after I was released. I’d long imagined a car bomb crashing into a military Humvee sent to collect me.

Then Abu Rasha pulled the car up to a curb. He handed me a note written in Arabic explaining who I was and told me to get out, lift my scarves, and walk a few hundred meters back.

The car door opened. It was Abu Qarrar, one of my Muj Brothers guards who’d appeared from nowhere. He handed me my gifts and a big bag full of all the clothes I’d accumulated over the last three months.

So my least favorite captor was the last one I saw. I said, “OK, Abu Qarrar, OK, goodbye, goodbye.” Then I hauled away, tottering down the road in an insurgent’s wife’s high-heeled sandals, grappling with my stuff, scarves flapping in my face, an ex-hostage bag lady returning to the world.

I found the Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP) office and handed the man behind the desk the note. I was panicky, terrified, starting to shake. I just wanted to use the phone, I mumbled in Arabic.

Instead, the man ran to notify the manager of this IIP branch office. “The same journalist?!” the manager said incredulously after reading the note. Debate over what to do with me followed. I felt weak, lost. All I knew was that I wanted to call my hotel.

Things moved quickly after that. They tried to hustle me into a white car for a drive to IIP headquarters. I resisted; I just wanted the hotel. I asked again to use the office phone, but was told that none of them worked.

A cellphone appeared, with a call for me. It was Tariq al-Hashemi, the IIP leader, later to become the new government’s vice president. I told Mr. Hashemi that I wanted him to call my hotel, and if no one from the Monitor was there, to call the Washington Post office and have them come get me. He said he would also call the US Embassy. I begged him not to, but he insisted.

(Photograph)
TARIQ AL-HASHEMI: The head of the Iraqi Islamic Party gave Jill Carroll a gift of a Koran shortly after her release on March 30.
APTN/AP
Photos: Reactions to Jill’s release

After a few minutes, a convoy of white SUVs and trucks with flashing lights and gunmen roared into the driveway and streets around the office. The IIP officials brought me downstairs and hurried me into a bulletproof luxury vehicle, complete with leather seats. I realized it was Hashemi’s personal security detail. The lights and guns and militarylike atmosphere terrified me.

I wanted to shout, “I don’t want this!” as we zoomed away.

Things were going horribly wrong. The mujahideen were going to see me; they were going to kill us. They would think I lied, that I hadn’t called my colleagues to come get me in a low-profile way. I doubled over in the seat, hiding below the ledge of the tinted windows.

A man sitting next to me laughed and said, “Why are you doing this?”

“I don’t want them to see me,” I said. Didn’t he understand?! I wanted to shout at them to let me out, to stop, to make the cars with the flashing lights go away. We tore down Baghdad’s streets, a giant screaming convoy with guns sticking out everywhere. I was terrified that every ordinary car we passed was a car bomb sent by the mujahideen to kill me for breaking my promise.

“Be careful of car bombs, be careful,” I told the man driving in Arabic. I checked the location of the door lock and handle in case the vehicle went up in flames and I needed to get out in a hurry.

The guards looked bemused, as if I was crazy, and said not to worry.

For me, my release is one of the hardest memories of my captivity. I don’t know why. Suddenly, my structure was gone. There was no one to tell me what to do.

My body was free, but my mind was not. I was conditioned to be whatever anyone around me wanted me to be. I had no opinions, no self-will. I didn’t know how to make decisions.

The IIP headquarters was a blur. They wanted to make a video of me, and they had me write a letter of thanks and make an audio recording. This was strictly to ensure that no one would accuse them of being my kidnappers, they said. The video was then widely broadcast.

Two close friends from the Washington Post, including Ellen Knickmeyer, the Iraq bureau chief, showed up. Someone gave me a phone, and I called my twin sister, Katie.

(Photograph)
KATIE CARROLL: Jill’s twin sister left her home in Washington on March 30 for a reunion in Boston.
CHRIS GARDNER/AP
Photos: Reactions to Jill’s release

(P.G.) At 5:45 A.M. on March 30, Katie was awakened by a ringing phone. She rolled over, looked at the caller ID, and saw that someone in Iraq was trying to reach her. In an instant, she knew.

They say that dreams come true, but seldom in life is it given to any of us to have such a perfect moment.

She grabbed the phone. “Katie, it’s me,” said the voice on the other end of the line. “I’m free.” Jill and Katie both started to cry.

As the Carroll family’s chief communicator, Katie immediately launched into contact mode, calling people on a predetermined list, working from the East Coast toward the West as the sun rose.

She didn’t have to call her parents. Jim and Mary Beth Carroll got their own wake-up calls from Jill.

At the Monitor’s headquarters in Boston, the news spread quickly. Editors began looking through the happiest of their premade plans, “Carroll Release Logistics.”

In Cairo, staff writer Dan Murphy was having lunch with a journalist colleague. He and Scott Peterson had begun rotating in and out of Baghdad every few weeks. A friend from Reuters sent him an instant message: “Congratulations on Jill being free.”

Mr. Murphy didn’t believe it. After all, over the course of the past months he’d had nine or so false reports of Jill’s freedom. He called back and told his friend nothing had happened. “No, man,” his friend insisted, “we’re just snapping it out of the States. ‘The Christian Science Monitor confirms…’ “

• • •

(J.C.) I made the video for the IIP. My state of mind was reflected in the fact that I felt guilty for delaying the start of filming so I could call members of my family.

I learned that Scott Peterson was still in Baghdad. I was sure he would have fled. I called him on Ellen’s cellphone. He was at the CNN offices where he was working on a new set of public service videos about me.

I was still on the phone with Scott when the US military arrived. I was so afraid of the soldiers. “What should I do, Scott?” He told me if they were there, they were the surest way to safety. I hung onto my friend Ellen from the Post as we went downstairs.

We got into an armored vehicle. I still had my big bag of stuff. I figured the mujahideen were watching. They were watching everything.

The hatches closed. We were driving along, and I finally started to relax.

(Photograph)
VIDEO AMBUSH: Moments after being brought to the Iraqi Islamic Party headquarters, Jill Carroll was interviewed by party officials for ‘internal use.’ The video was released to the media within hours.
APTN/AP
Photos: Reactions to Jill’s release

One of the soldiers pulled out a picture of me that he had been carrying with him. “I don’t need this anymore,” he said, and gave it to me.

Another pulled off a flag that was attached with Velcro to his uniform, and gave that to me, too.

A third, sitting to my left, said “We’ve been looking for you for a long time.”

How did these men know who I was? I didn’t understand why they had a picture of me. I had no idea how much coverage my kidnapping had received.

I sat and talked with Ellen. After a few minutes, she said, “You can take off your hijab now.”

“No, no,” I said.

I waited a minute. Then I said, “Well, actually … I guess I can.”

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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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