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Archive for the ‘Southeast Asia’ Category

Now this is just lovely, and by lovely, I mean horrible. Don’t forget, this is the mindset of the people we are dealing with.

I’m sure this asshole is laughing and eating popcorn.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Killers swapped messages with wife of marine

AFTER her husband Marine Private First Class Reuben S. Doronio Jr. was killed in an ambush in Basilan last July 10, Jomarie Doronio received several text messages from her husband’s killers.

One of them asked if he could befriend her. The others inquired about her well-being.

Either way, she could only feel disgust at their attempt to add insult to injury.

The communication began on the day her husband was killed, Jomarie said.

“Pasensya ka na. Nabalitaan naming napatay na ang mister nyo (We’re sorry. We heard that your husband has been killed),” was the text message she received from her husband’s cellular phone number.

“Bastos”

She and her sister-in-law Honeylee called the number but nobody answered.

The next day, the military camp in Basilan confirmed that Reuben was among the 14 marines killed in the encounter with Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels. They had been scouring the jungles for the kidnapped Italian priest, Fr. Giancarlo Bossi, when they were attacked.

Ten of them were beheaded, including her husband, while some of the soldiers had their genitals cut off.

The mutilations spark-ed outrage across the country.

The two women called the acts “bastos” (barbaric).

Honeylee said the rebels again sent 10 more text messages to Jomarie, still using her brother’s number.

One of them was, “Puwede ba makigpag-kaibigan (Can we be friends)?”

Honeylee said the sender might have fallen for Jomarie after he saw her picture on her husband’s phone.

“Naibog gyud na nimo (He must like you),” Honeylee told Jomarie.

The messages only stopped when Honeylee told them, through text message, “One day, you will also suffer the pain we have at present.”

The two, united in grief, vowed never to forgive Reuben’s killers.

The rest of the family is also seeking justice for his death.

His father Doronio Sr. described him as a brave and compassionate person.

Appeal

“It was unfortunate that he died young,” was the sentiment shared by the victim’s brothers and other relatives.

Reuben’s body lies in state at the Cebu Rolling Hills Memorial Chapels in Banilad, Cebu City.

He will be buried on Saturday.

Doronio Sr. told Sun.Star Cebu that despite the pain they are feeling right now, he is appealing to the Muslim rebels responsible for their deaths to free Fr. Bossi and return to the fold of the law.

Reuben graduated with a degree in science and education at the Cebu State College of Science and Technology at the age of 19.

He might have chosen the field of education because of his mother, who is a Department of Education supervisor in their hometown of Borbon, said his father.

But instead of practicing his profession, he joined the Marines at the age of 20, so he could serve his country.

Reuben turned 25 last Feb. 10.

Surprise visit

He married Jomarie on May 25, 2006. The couple has a five-month-old son Lexben Gabriel who was born last Feb. 12.
Doronio Sr. said his son flew to Manila last week to visit a friend who was in the hospital.

He suddenly showed up in Borbon to visit his family, but he did not stay long.

According to his father, Reuben asked him to buy a plane ticket for his trip to the Basilan military camp so he could join his group in the search for the missing priest.

“The last thing I can remember (of him) is that he smiled while bidding goodbye to us,” Doronio Sr. said. (EOB)

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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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Part 8 • A new enemy

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

| Staff writers of The Christian Science Monitor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

• • •

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Photograph)
JILLIAN TAMAKI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nothing happened. And the days dragged on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

• • •

(Photograph)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another dry hole.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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Part 5 • Mujahideen movies

Jill discovers these are hardcore Islamic militants who follow Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq.

| Staff writers of The Christian Science Monitor

 

(J.C.) One afternoon in the first week after I’d been taken – and been moved to yet another house near Abu Ghraib – Abu Ali called me into a big sitting room with green velveteen couches. On the far wall, above the TV, was a gigantic poster of waterfalls and rocks and trees.

It was beautiful. I could stare at it and get lost. I thought, I wish I was there, I wish I was there.

(Photograph)
AL QAEDA IN IRAQ: About a week into her captivity, Jill was shown videos of attacks like this one on July 21, 2003 in Baghdad.
MANISH SWARUP/AP

But my captors wanted me to look at something very different: DVDs of them waging war.

By their count, they were killing dozens or even hundreds of soldiers a day. They estimated that Al Qaeda in Iraq had killed at least 40,000 US soldiers. They could prove it, they said, with videos of their operations showing Humvees and tanks blowing up and snipers shooting soldiers.

So Abu Ali – the captor with a stubbly beard – sat me down and showed me the videos. They were in Arabic and were stamped with the symbols of various insurgent groups, and included audio overlays of mujahideen chanting in low, somber tones.

One video showed all these men who were going to be suicide car bombers. They interviewed them, and then showed a field, with cars lined up, and each man getting into a car – waving, just euphoric – and then driving off.

Others had pictures of an American Humvee driving along – and then it would blow up, and they’d cut to a graphic of a lightning flash, and thunder clapping.

Abu Ali would glance over at me as I watched the videos, asking me what I thought of them. I couldn’t say anything good, but I tried to say things that were true, like “Oh, this is the first time I’ve ever seen this. I didn’t know this was out there.”

To Abu Ali, though, this was their mission, a righteous path; this was their work for God.

While I sat there watching them, I felt the insurgents were sending me a message: They hate Americans so much, they’re proud of these attacks. It’s normal to them.

Surely they were going to kill me. How could they not?

(P.G.) The first set of phone-recording equipment that the FBI brought to Jim Carroll‘s North Carolina home didn’t work. A second set, shipped in from the Charlotte office, didn’t work either. Eventually, agents assigned to the Jill Carroll case got the standard wiretap electronics in place.

From the beginning, the FBI identified Jim as someone who could handle hostage negotiations. He received rudimentary training in what to do if contacted: Keep talking, keep them on the phone, try to set a time for a call back.

But no one was sure which numbers Jill would remember and pass along to her jailers. So taps were readied for a number of phones. If the kidnappers called, the FBI would use the recording to try to identify them and their location.

In Baghdad, Monitor staff writer Scott Peterson put a piece of climbing tape on one of his phones, and drew on it a green eye, to remind him which line the government was watching. He and staff writer Dan Murphy were pursuing their own leads with Iraqi sources and seeking the help of Sunni politicians known to have insurgent contacts.

Between them, Messrs. Peterson and Murphy could draw on decades of experience working in dangerous environments. As a reporter and photographer, Peterson’s hot-spot assignments stretched from Angola to Afghanistan. In 1993, he took a machete blow to the head from a mob that killed four journalists in Somalia. Later, he was one of the very few correspondents to enter the Rwandan capital, Kigali, when the genocide began.

Murphy lived for 10 years in Indonesia, where he covered sectarian violence and became one of the world’s experts on Al Qaeda’s operations in Southeast Asia. In Baghdad, he’d been one of Jill’s mentors.

Meanwhile, back in the US, the Monitor enlisted the help of Faye Bowers, a recently retired Washington correspondent with extensive contacts in the dark world of intelligence. She had been instrumental in the negotiations to release Monitor reporter David Rohde, who was jailed by Bosnian Serbs for 10 days in 1995 and won a Pulitzer for stories revealing the first evidence of the Srebrenica massacre.

At Ms. Bowers’s request, US officials also contacted important Sunnis in Iraq, and pushed them to do all they could to secure Jill’s release. Jordanian and European officials, particularly the Germans, provided context about their own efforts to free hostages in Iraq. And an army of Bowers’s contacts, many of them ex-spies, scrolled through their memories, searching for old friends and contacts in the Arab world who might help.

(J.C.) At the beginning of my ordeal, I had hoped my kidnappers were amateurs who wouldn’t really know what to do with me and would start to get very nervous after a few days. Then they’d let me go.

(Photograph)
ZARQAWI: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi spoke in a rare video of him posted on the Web on April 25, 2006.
REUTERS

I knew they were Iraqis, which was good. It was the foreign-born insurgents – such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who beheaded hostages.

They seemed a small group, and they told me they had come together and forged their identity fighting the US military for control of the restive city of Fallujah in a Sunni- dominated area west of Baghdad.

But after about a week in captivity – about the time of the showing of the jihadi videos – it became increasingly clear to me that they were the real deal.

During the precious few hours when the electricity worked, they would sometimes plug in a cassette player, and an angry voice would blare in classical Arabic from the room across the hall, where the guards slept.

I usually only understood a few words, like “America,” “Israel,” and “occupation,” but the point was clear.

“Do you know who that is?” one of the guards asked me at one point. “That is Sheikh Abu Musab. Is he a good man? What is your opinion of Zarqawi?”

I dodged the question. But inside, I felt the fear welling up. These were Zarqawi people! I was an American. I thought again, there was no way I was getting out of this alive.

(P.G.) Perhaps the knowledge of what would happen to Khalid if he disappeared into the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior was what did it. Sitting on a bed in the Monitor’s Baghdad apartment, he finally broke down.

“I knew you wouldn’t believe me if I told you the truth!” he sobbed.

(Photograph)
KEEPING TRACK: The white board used by editors at the Christian Science Monitor to track their efforts to release hostage Jill Carroll.
JOHN NORDELL – STAFF

By this point, Khalid (not his real name) had worked for the Monitor and other media organizations as an interpreter, on and off, for a year-and-a-half. He was a gentle soul, thin and nervous in a birdlike way. He’d come via recommendation from someone in the Coalition Provisional Authority, back when that still existed, and Murphy liked working with him. He was interested in the way that religion and politics fit together, as was Murphy himself.

And for days now, Khalid had said he had a source – two separate sources, actually – who knew where Jill was.

The information – revealed in dribs and drabs over time – was detailed in a way that made it sound credible. It even jibed with other leads coming in. She was being held, allegedly, in Al Adl – the same neighborhood where she was kidnapped and a part of the city known to be rife with insurgents. There were two teams that took turns guarding her, each composed of three men. The house was detached, and the opening in its surrounding wall was a white metal gate – sheet metal, not bars, and streaked with dirt. Behind the gate sat the Monitor driver’s maroon Toyota with a broken window and bullet holes in the side.

The Monitor’s Baghdad team had passed this information along, and the Hereford, England-based security firm hired by the newspaper sent an Iraqi employee into the neighborhood to eyeball possible houses. He found four or five.

But then one of Khalid’s sources went out of town. And his story began to change. Maybe the gate was … black.

What was going on? Late one night, a colonel from the Iraqi Interior Ministry arrived to interview Khalid in Arabic. The colonel was a busy man; he talked to the interpreter a bit, then left on other business. But he made himself clear: At this point, if Khalid didn’t name his source, Khalid would have to come in to the ministry.

He didn’t have to say that bad things happened at the ministry, even to good people.

Khalid was shaken. Murphy, too, was concerned. He sat beside him, and gently asked, again, for the real story. And finally it came out.

His wife had visions, said Khalid. They’re painful and difficult for her, he said, but it’s a gift. She’d warned him not to get involved, but he’d wanted to help. He’d given his wife one of Jill’s cherry-tinted hairs from a hair band which he’d secretly taken from the office. She’d been the one who “saw” where Jill was. Khalid believed her. But he knew Murphy and Peterson wouldn’t.

The reporters were stunned. For weeks now, they’d been pursuing this lead. Now, it seemed, they had been sending people into dangerous neighborhoods based on the musings of a clairvoyant.

From the beginning, investigative tracks dealing with Jill’s possible whereabouts gave the family and her employers a sense of hope and momentum.

Excerpts from readers’ letters
(Photograph)
ORIGAMI: Fourth graders at St. Anthony Catholic School in Boston folded 246 paper cranes for Jill Carroll.
ASHLEY TWIGGS

What they didn’t provide, in the end, was Jill. Leads dried up. Sources disappeared. Demands for ransom turned out to be attempts at extortion.

The curious case of the clairvoyant was perhaps the most extreme example of where tracks went. But it wasn’t unique. Other sources claimed to have a video taken on a cellphone – and described her in detail.

Notes scribbled daily on legal pads by managing editor Marshall Ingwerson give a sense of the rise and fall of these efforts.

From 1/11/06: “New lead. HWG [the US Embassy’s Hostage Working Group] onworking. Source is someone we’ve worked with before … contradictory to [The New York Times’s Dexter] Filkins lead….”

From 1/14/06: “2 tracks still in play. Filkins update: By chance his sources – guard at racetrack saw her yesterday while she was being transferred….”

From 1/19/06: “No more on Dexter’s track. Contradictory info on [Scott Peterson’s] track.”

From 1/20/06: “Dexter track definitely dead….”

One morning, the British security man under contract to the Monitor told Murphy and Peterson that the body of a Western woman had been found in Baghdad. Police were checking the morgue. The two reporters kept the information to themselves, tensely awaiting verification. The report proved untrue.

While the leads were thin, the public support poured in. The Monitor would post on its website a daily selection of e-mails and letters from Jill Carroll supporters of all faiths, and all walks of life. During some of the darkest nights, Mary Beth Carroll would go to her computer and draw some comfort from the strangers’ missives.

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