Local News

Kidnapped Journalist's Father Relieved After Suspects' Arrests

Posted August 9, 2006

— U.S. troops have arrested four Iraqi men in the kidnapping of American journalist Jill Carroll, who was freed in March after 82 days in captivity, a U.S. spokesman said Wednesday.

Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said the four, who were not identified, were arrested in Anbar province west of Baghdad but he did not say when. Another U.S. official, Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, said the arrests were made about a month ago.

Caldwell said Carroll, who works for the Christian Science Monitor, was held at three locations, including one about seven miles west of Fallujah before she was freed March 30.

The 28-year-old journalist was kidnapped Jan. 7 in west Baghdad and her Iraqi interpreter was shot dead. She was released near a Sunni Arab political party office in Baghdad and returned to the United States on April 2.

Carroll's father, Jim Carroll, lives in Chapel Hill. For him, word of the arrests didn't compare to his daughter's release, but it was still good news.

"We are very pleased people are arrested," said Jim Carroll. "We're thankful for all those involved in bringing these men to justice."

Throughout her nearly 3-month ordeal, Jill Carroll appeared in videotaped messages as her captors threatened to kill her. Four months after her release, Jim Carroll said that she's doing well and is working at the Christian Science Monitor's Boston headquarters.

"Life has been restored back to normal, and we're very happy for that," said Jim Carroll.

The breakthrough came after a Marine lieutenant from the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force identified a house from intelligence reports and photographs that he had seen earlier.

"Sound intelligence was paramount here," Caldwell said.

The lieutenant and others in his unit knocked on the door of the house, asked the owner's permission to look around and saw "very distinct features" that led them to believe it was likely one of the places Jill Carroll had been held, Caldwell said.

The owner of the house was detained.

"After questioning that suspect, Marines identified additional locations where Carroll was believed to have been held," Caldwell said.

Four of the detainees were arrested for involvement in Carroll's kidnapping. The role of the fifth detainee was unclear. "U.S. and Iraqi authorities are currently discussing prosecutorial options and will make the determination shortly," Caldwell said.

The Christian Science Monitor said it was aware of the announcement in Baghdad and expressed gratitude for U.S. efforts to win her release.

"Like reporters everywhere, we are reassured to hear that several of those believed to have held Jill have been apprehended," editor Richard Bergenheim said. "The daily threat of kidnapping in Iraq remains acute for all. Everything possible needs to be done to relieve Iraqis and others of this scourge."

Jill Carroll has remained fairly quiet since her release in March. However, the Christian Science Monitor plans to run an account of her ordeal in her own words.

Jim Carroll says his family is still praying for the safe release of all hostages caught up in the war on terrorism.

"We are thankful for all the efforts made to bring these men to justice and continue to hope for the safe release of Iraqi hostages and the American hostage Jeff Ake of Indiana," he said.

Ake, an Indiana businessman, was last seen in an April 13, 2005, video that showed him being held at gunpoint by at least three people, two days after he disappeared in Iraq.

Jill Carroll's kidnappers, a formerly unknown group calling themselves the Revenge Brigade, had demanded the release of all female detainees in Iraq, saying she would be killed otherwise. U.S. officials did release some female detainees but said the decision was unrelated to the demands.

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