Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Saddam’ Category

Part 3: The first video

Jill meets Ink Eyes, her chief captor, and makes a video seeking the release of Iraqi women.

| Staff writers of
The Christian Science Monitor

 

(Illustration)
(J.C.) Monday morning – two days after the kidnapping – my captors began trying to convert me to Islam.

He was eager to show me the similarities between Islam and Christianity, so he was telling me how many stories from the Bible are actually in the Koran. I was anxious to make him like me and feel I was sympathetic to him, so much so that I began using more of my Arabic.

He and the others marveled at how much of their language I seemed to have picked up in just one day.

I tried to listen to Abu Ali‘s lesson attentively as he translated complicated Koranic Arabic into more basic Arabic he thought I could understand. He was very pleased that I showed interest in learning. He kept saying there was no pressure, no pressure in Islam, that they were forbidden from forcing people to convert. True acceptance must come from a free will.

They’d kidnapped me, and they all had guns ready to kill me, but, oh no, no pressure there. I falsely assured him that I felt no pressure. I have always been interested in learning about Islam. But only so that I can understand the people I’m covering as a journalist.

Later on, this would come back to haunt me.

(P.G.) Meanwhile, the rest of the world was just beginning to hear about Jill Carroll‘s kidnapping. Journalists in Baghdad had learned of it minutes after it happened, but most held off on reporting the attack. The reason: the Monitor had asked the media to temporarily remain quiet about the crime.

As he hopped from airport to airport on his way into Baghdad, staff writer Scott Peterson had called Boston to add his voice to those of TV network executives and Baghdad reporters who were forcefully arguing for a news blackout. It was a question of Jill’s safety and hostage value. If the kidnappers had made a mistake, and hadn’t known they were snatching a young US female reporter, a blackout might provide them space to release her unharmed. If they had targeted her – a scenario that seemed more likely – the blackout might buy time for a quick negotiation, and make Jill seem less valuable.

More critically, a blackout might protect Jill if she was hiding her Arabic or lying to her kidnappers about her name or background.

The Western media who live in Baghdad are a tight group and consult on everything from security to parties; thus they’re easy to reach en masse. On Jan. 7, managing editor Marshall Ingwerson sent them a formal request to sit on stories about Jill. From his small office off the Monitor newsroom, Mr. Ingwerson fielded a steady stream of inquiries.

“We’d prefer you not write,” he told callers. “Most of your colleagues are respecting this blackout.”

That was true – most did. Some helped enforce it, alerting the Monitor to isolated stories popping up on the Web.

But Jill wasn’t quickly released. And after two days had passed, editors around the world began to grumble. The executive editor of the Associated Press contacted Ingwerson to argue it was time to go public.

Finally, the Monitor agreed. It issued a statement identifying Jill as a “freelance reporter.” Her work for foreign publications, rather than her US clients, was emphasized. The point, again, was to lower her perceived value.

The blackout taught editors something about the degree of cooperation they could expect from media colleagues. Some hadn’t expected it to last five minutes, yet it had lasted for days. Monitor editors began to formulate a plan – something strategic – for shaping Jill’s image in the Middle East.

(J.C.) Monday afternoon the kidnappers called me into the sitting room. Sitting against a wall was a man wearing a kaffiyeh – the traditional Arab men’s headdress, made of checked fabric – wrapped around his head and face. All I could see were his ink-black eyes.

Ink Eyes addressed me in English. His voice had a familiar, gravelly quality.

“Are you happy here?” he asked. “Is everything OK?”

I knew that voice – it was the interpreter, the man who’d grilled me about my background in the initial hours of my captivity. I soon learned that he was more than an interpreter; he was their leader.

He went on to say that his group had kidnapped a French journalist a year earlier, and that she’d asked why she was treated so well. “So you’ll say you were treated well when you go home,” he’d told her.

Another shock – these were the men who’d taken Florence Aubenas. A French foreign correspondent for the paper Liberation, she was kidnapped in Baghdad in January 2005.
(See story | Graphic | Interactive map.)

Well, at least she’d been released, though at the time I didn’t know it was after a five-month ordeal.

Ink Eyes kept talking. “We need to make a video of you,” he said. “We want your family to see this. We want to make them see you in a bad way so that they want to move quickly.”

A vision flashed through my head: I was going to be one of those hostages surrounded by men with guns in a video broadcast on Al Jazeera. I’d always worried about becoming one of them.

Seeing my alarm, they said I didn’t have to make the video if I didn’t want to. I assured them I did want to. They were armed, I didn’t want to know the consequences if I said no.

Then the man with the black eyes said, “Jill, where is your mobile [phone]? Yesterday, the American soldiers came very close, very close to this place where you were. Why did they do that?”

Again, they were accusing me of communicating with the US military. This was bad.

“I am the leader of this little group, and I’m a little more sophisticated than my friends here,” he continued. “Do you have something in your body, something to send a signal to your government?”

Then he told me a story: He’d had a friend held at the US prison at Abu Ghraib. This friend claimed that Marines had given him medicine that put him to sleep, many times. After he got out, he went to the doctor, had an X-ray, and they’d found an electronic tracking device implanted in his body.

“If you have this in your body, tell me now and we’ll go and take it out,” Ink Eyes said, making a plucking gesture with his hand.

“No, I don’t have this! I don’t have this!” I nearly shouted through tears. “Bring a woman. We’ll go in the bathroom right now, and I’ll take all my clothes off and she can look at me and see that I don’t have anything.”

He waved his hand and said that wouldn’t prove I didn’t have a transmitter implanted in my body. Then he changed the subject, apparently letting go of the issue. Eventually, dinner for the men arrived – fish, an expensive treat in Iraq, in honor of me.

I left the room to go eat with the women and children. But it was clear that this suspicion was not going away.

After dinner they told me to put on a track suit they’d given me two days earlier and remove my head scarf. I wanted to wear my hijab if they were going to film me; they said no, they wanted to make my hair messy, make me look bad.

They brought me back into the sitting room, and men began filing in, carrying AK-47s and RPGs. They were cavalier about their weapons; one AK was lying on the ground, pointed right at me. I thought, “If that thing goes off, it’s going to blow off my leg.”

They were holding up a sheet, moving it here and there, trying to find the best light. There were maybe 10 men in the room, and each had an opinion; it was “no, no, no, here,” and then “no, no, no, over here.”

Ink Eyes had written up a short speech, but he wasn’t going to deliver it. Abu Rasha, the man who’d fought soldiers the day before in Baghdad, was going to do it instead. He kept practicing it aloud; I didn’t understand most of it, except for when he said “CIA.”

(Photograph)
ACTION: The first video was made Jan. 9 with Abu Rasha, the man in the middle, reading a speech in Arabic. About 30 seconds of the four-minute video were aired, without sound, on Al Jazeera Jan. 17.

Then the leader turned and coached me intently. I was to say that they were mujahideen fighting to defend their country, that they wanted women freed from Abu Ghraib prison, and the US military, particularly the Marines, were killing and arresting their women and destroying their houses.

And I must cry, on cue.

Abu Rasha donned a jumpsuit and wrapped his head in a kaffiyeh. Two others did the same. I sat down in front of them and the camera rolled.

I started to give my speech. Abu Ali standing behind the camera ran his fingers down his cheeks, to signal that I needed to cry.

It took me a while to work up to the crying part. But I had a lot of pent-up emotion and stress, and by the time we finished, I was crying for real. (Later, I learned that Al Jazeera only aired about 30 seconds – without audio – of that first four-minute tape. The tears were never broadcast.)

As the taping ended, I put my head down and I just kept crying. I heard Abu Rasha sigh behind me in a sympathetic way, like he felt bad, and some of the other men were making little noises like they felt bad that I was sitting there crying in front of them.

Ink Eye’s reaction was different. He showed no sympathy. And I knew his opinion of me – my personal character – might make the difference in whether I lived or died.

He said, “We have to do this again.”

He wanted me to cry more and talk longer, and say how the Marines were destroying things, destroying their homes.

(Photograph)
EMBEDDED: Jill is shown in western Iraq in November 2005 with members of the 3rd Battalion, 6th Regiment.
JILL CARROLL COLLECTION

They had a special enmity for the US Marines. What they didn’t know – and I hoped they would never find out – was that I had been embedded with the Marines for five weeks in November and December.

Back then, the lieutenant of the platoon I was with had said that if anyone ever kidnapped me, a platoon of Marines would come to my rescue.

So, in the retake of the video I made a point of emphasizing the word “Marines.” I said, “Their government isn’t of the Iraqi people. It is a government brought by the American government and by the MARINES…”

I wanted them to know I was thinking of them. Come get me, guys. Please, come save me.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

(Photograph)

Part 2 : A spy with a homing device

A first-person account by Jill Carroll (J.C.) with contextual narrative by Peter Grier (P.G.).

US soldiers come so close on the first night that Jill’s captors accuse her of hiding a homing device.

| Staff writers for the Christian Science Monitor

(P.G.) When Jill Carroll was nearly 4 years old, her family held a picnic at Kensington Park, a beach and lake recreation area outside Detroit. At one point, her mother, Mary Beth Carroll, realized that Jill had disappeared.

(Photograph)
SHE FOUGHT: Jill Carroll, age 4, was nearly abducted from this Michigan beach on the day this photo was taken in 1981.
COURTESY OF THE CARROLL FAMILY

Mary Beth turned around and saw a strange man walking away, his arms extended as if he were a fork lift. His cargo was Jill, who was lying on her back, screaming and punching.

When Mary Beth caught up to him, the man said he thought the little girl was lost. Only later, after the shock had worn off, did she realize he might have been trying to abduct her daughter.

At least she fought, her mother thought.

Mary Beth Carroll took some comfort from this memory after her daughter was seized in Baghdad. Jill would be terrified, Mary Beth believed. But she would not cower.

Mary Beth, a retired high school teacher, lives in Evanston, Ill. On the morning of Jan. 7, she was in Minneapolis visiting her parents.

Her cellphone rang at 5:30 a.m., rousing her from sleep. A woman from the State Department was on the line. She was sympathetic but direct. “Steel yourself, Mrs. Carroll,” she said. “Your daughter has been abducted and her translator killed.”

Mary Beth called Jill’s twin sister, Katie, and other family members, then quickly showered and dressed.

An hour or so later, Marshall Ingwerson, managing editor of the Monitor, reached her. Calmly, Mary Beth told him that Jill could think on her feet and was probably smarter (with an IQ of 140) than her kidnappers.

Mr. Ingwerson thought Jill’s mother was incredibly strong and was trying to comfort him. But she was really trying to comfort herself.

The first day, she thought she’d never sleep again. But she was so on edge that her body became exhausted. Jim Carroll, Jill’s father who lives in North Carolina, experienced the same phenomenon. The whole ordeal was grueling, but even on the worst days, sleep came quickly for most of the

(J.C.) I spent my first full day of captivity sitting in a plastic chair in the second-floor bedroom of a house in Baghdad, while the sound of gunfire echoed around me.

I kept thinking, it’s just Baghdad, that’s the way it is. But the shooting, which had begun the night before, went on all day. Some of it was close.

Around dusk Abu Rasha, the No. 2 in charge and owner of the house, came into the room. He looked exhausted.

“I’m very, very tired, all day I’m fighting with the soldiers,” he said. Then he made a ggggg-ggg sound, in imitation of an automatic weapon.

He sat down on the bed and sighed.

“They’re right here. They’re very near,” he said. “Why, Jill? Why are the soldiers here? Why are the soldiers so near here?”

The question was an accusation.

I realized he thought I was somehow telling the US military where I was. For my own safety, I needed to make him see I was very upset by that idea.

“I don’t know! I don’t know!” I said, my voice rising.

“You don’t have a mobile phone?” he said. “Maybe in your hair?”

I ripped off my head scarf and shook my hair loose. This was completely inappropriate behavior that would normally have deeply offended a Muslim man as apparently devout as he, but I was desperate.

His hands went through my hair, checking my scalp for whatever he imagined I might have hidden there. Finally, he was satisfied. He left the room.

I collapsed into the plastic chair and started to cry, silently, afraid he would be angry if he heard me.

But suddenly he returned. He rushed over, grabbed my hand, and knelt next to me.

“I’m so sorry. No, Jill, don’t cry. I’m so, so, so sorry,” he said, emphatically. “No, no, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I’m your brother.”

He was overwrought. Why should he care if I was upset? He’d kidnapped me, after all.

I knew I had just learned something important, something that might help me get through whatever was to come.

The next day I was told that US and Iraqi soldiers had raided the Um al-Qura Mosque – just a mile from Adnan al-Dulaimi‘s office.

Much later, I learned that the raid was prompted by a tip from an Iraqi civilian about my location. It was the closest US forces would come to rescuing me over the next three months.

In the first minutes of my kidnapping the insurgents, who had seized me and killed Alan, seemed shocked at their success. They didn’t appear to have a plan for what to do next.

But in the days that followed, a pattern developed that held throughout my captivity.

I was moved often. They provided me meals that Iraqis would think fit for guests, as well as small luxuries such as expensive toiletries.

(Graphic)
View the neighborhood where Jill was held the first night of her captivity in our interactive map.

Yet I was a prisoner. My captors would unexpectedly explode with bitter accusations that I was a spy, or Jewish, or hiding a homing device. They’d boast about their exploits fighting – and once sharing a meal – with American soldiers while I was in captivity.

In response, my mood would veer wildly. One moment I’d be sure they were going to kill me. The next I’d think they were going to let me go, that it was only a matter of time.

Overall, I just wanted it to be over with, whatever “it” was going to be. I remember being in a hurry to get done with it from the moment it began.

• • •

That first day, they were spooked by how close the soldiers had come to finding me. Abu Rasha said they had to move to the house of Abu Ali, his “brother.” I thought he meant his real brother. Later, I realized this was just a reference to a fellow mujahideen.

Abu Rasha packed my stuff for me, but forgot to put in the toothpaste and shampoo they’d given me the night before. I thought, maybe there’s a reason he didn’t put them in – desperately overanalyzing everything. I asked about them, and he put them in the bag.

Abu Rasha removed my glasses (I’d found the missing lens in the car) and put two black scarves over my head and face so I wouldn’t be able to see where they were taking me. Hanging onto his arm, I stumbled blindly out of the house and into a car, trying to suck fresh air through the suffocating layers of black polyester.

After a short drive we switched cars, and I cowered, motionless in the strange, new back seat. Soon I realized that there were children next to me, and men in the front seat.

A cassette blared a recitation of the Koran and every few minutes the nervous men would mutter “Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar,” as we drove through the darkness.

Then one of them said in Arabic, “What are you? What are you?”

A tiny voice next to me replied, “I’m a mujahid,” a holy warrior.

It was a boy – I’d learn that his name was Ismael, and he was 5 years old. Just a child, already indoctrinated.

After some 20 minutes, the car stopped and a woman’s gloved hand grasped mine, guiding me out of the car and into a house. My heart was racing; the adrenaline hadn’t stopped in 24 hours. Barely a day had passed and I was a broken, quivering, fearful shell.

She lifted the scarves. In a rush of air and light I saw her face, smiling and welcoming in a sitting room lined with cushions. Abu Rasha entered, and the woman flipped down a black scarf on her head, covering all but her eyes.

“This is Um Ali and this is Abu Ali,” Abu Rasha told me, smiling. Um is Arabic for mother, Abu is father. But all my captors’ names were fake, as each adopted a nom de guerre in my presence.

I looked to the left to a rotund man with a stubbly salt-and-pepper beard and grandfatherly eyes. He was smiling, too, and looked friendly.

“Do you know Abu Ali?” said Abu Rasha. “Do you know him from yesterday?”

“No,” I said.

I looked at him again – and then I did know who he was. He was the man that held the gun on Adnan, my driver, during my abduction – the fat guy with the beard.

“Oh no,” I thought to myself. This was not OK.

Read Full Post »

The image “https://i0.wp.com/i.a.cnn.net/cnn/interactive/world/0304/gallery.iraq.war.0409/baghdad/01.statue.standing.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

I actually agree with the peacenik protestors on this one. Let’s pull out of Iraq and leave these ungrateful fucks behind forever. We’ll pull the military out so our soldiers won’t have to attempt to protect a people who are daily killing them. We’ll pull our copious funding so they can just go ahead and descend into barbarism like all middle-east fanatical Muslims want. I say YES to Iraqi civil war!

I seem to remember a time when the native peoples of Iraq were dancing and partying in the streets of Baghdad in celebration of a tyrant by the name of Saddam having just been overthrown–the most memorable image being a large bronze statue of the deposed dictator yanked down by Iraqis and U.S. forces together in solidarity. Yes, most of the residents of Iraq were relieved by Sadam’s exit. No all, but most.

Particularly happy were the Shiite Muslims, since Saddam tended to kick the shit out of them on a regular basis. Now however, hundreds of thousands of the unappreciative fucks are chanting in the streets their support of Nasrallah and Hezbollah, and the downfall of Israel and America.

Fine. Bush’s plan of democracy in the Mideast has been one of the biggest failures in a term filled to the brim with memorable blunders. Why fight it anymore? Let’s get out. Let them kill one another. Who cares? It’s what they want anyway.

P.S. I know I’m over simplifying.

The image “https://i1.wp.com/www.openfire.us/blog/archives/images/2005/anti-Israel.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Iraqi Shiites Chant ‘Death to Israel’

 

Aug 4, 8:09 AM (ET)

By MURTADA FARAJ
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) – Hundreds of thousands of Shiites chanting “Death to Israel” and “Death to America” marched through the streets of Baghdad’s biggest Shiite district Friday in a massive show of support for Hezbollah in its battle against Israel.

No violence was reported during the rally in Sadr City. But at least 26 people were killed elsewhere in the country, most of them in a car bombing and gunbattle in Mosul in the north.

The demonstration was the biggest in the Middle East in support of Hezbollah since Israel launched its attacks against the guerrillas in Lebanon on July 12. The protest was organized by radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose political movement built around the Mahdi Army militia has been modeled after Hezbollah.

Al-Sadr summoned followers from throughout the Shiite heartland of southern Iraq to converge on Baghdad for the rally but he himself did not attend.
Demonstrators, wearing white shrouds symbolizing willingness to die for Hezbollah, waved the guerrillas’ yellow banner and chanted slogans in support of their leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, which has attained a cult status in the Arab world for its defiance of Israeli military power.

“Allah, Allah, give victory to Hassan Nasrallah,” the crowd chanted.

“Mahdi Army and Hezbollah are one, let them confront us if they dare,” the predominantly male crowd shouted, waving the flags of Hezbollah, Lebanon and Iraq. Many walked with umbrellas in the searing afternoon sun. Volunteers sprayed them with water.

“I am wearing the shroud and I am ready to meet martyrdom,” said Mohammed Khalaf, 35, owner of a clothes shop in the southern city of Amarah.

Al-Sadr followers painted U.S. and Israeli flags on the main road leading to the rally site, and demonstrators stepped on them – a gesture of contempt in Iraq. Alongside the painted flags was written: “These are the terrorists.”

Protesters set fire to American and Israeli flags, as well as effigies of President George W. Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, showing the men with Dracula teeth. “Saddam and Bush, Two Faces of One Coin” was scrawled on Bush’s effigy.

Iraqi government television said the Defense Ministry had approved the demonstration, a sign of the public anger over Israel’s offensive in Lebanon and of al-Sadr’s stature as a major player in Iraqi politics.

“I consider my participation in this rally a religious duty. I am proud to join this crowd and I am ready to die for the sake of Lebanon,” said Khazim al-Ibadi, 40, a government employee from Hillah.

Although the rally was about Hezbollah, it was also a show of strength by al-Sadr, and many worried that the presence of so many Shiite demonstrators – most of them from the Mahdi Army – would add to tensions in the city that has seen almost daily clashes between Shiite and Sunni extremists.

The sectarian violence escalated after the Feb. 22 bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samarra unleashed a wave of reprisal attacks on Sunnis nationwide.

In the latest violence Friday, at least 13 people were killed when Iraqi security forces fought street gunbattles with suspected insurgents in Mosul after a suicide car bomber blew up a police patrol, provincial police commander Maj. Gen. Withiq al-Hamdani said.

He said the suicide bombing killed four policemen and eight insurgents were killed in the subsequent gunbattle.

Also Friday, another suicide bomber killed three people on a soccer field in Hatra town near Mosul. An engineer was shot dead and an unidentified body, showing signs of torture, was found in western Baghdad.

The U.S. military said in a statement that coalition forces killed at least three “terrorists” during an air strike and multiple raids southeast of Baghdad on Thursday.

Separately. gunmen shot and killed four people and wounded eight from a Shiite family late Thursday in Dujail, 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Baghdad, police Lt. Hussam al-Dujeili, said.

On Thursday, Gen. John Abizaid, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East, told a Senate committee in Washington that sectarian violence in Iraq “is probably as bad as I have seen it” and that if the spiral continued the country “could move toward civil war.”

The image “http://www3.baylor.edu/~Charles_Kemp/palestinian1.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts