U.S. Journalist Shown as Hostage

Hostage American Reporter Jill Carroll
Journalist Jill Carroll appears in a silent 20-second video aired Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2006, by Al-Jazeera television. (Al-Jazeera via AP)
By Nelson Hernandez and Ellen Knickmeyer
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, January 18, 2006

BAGHDAD, Jan. 17 -- The captors of an American journalist kidnapped in Baghdad 10 days ago threatened to kill her in three days unless authorities freed all female prisoners in Iraq, according to an Arabic television network that aired a brief video of the woman Tuesday night.

Jill Carroll, a freelance reporter based in Baghdad, was shown speaking, but there was no sound with the video shown by al-Jazeera. Her skin was pale and her dark hair was pulled back from her face and straying in untidy strands. She appeared to be exhausted, but her face remained composed as she spoke.

The clip was the first sight of Carroll, 28, since she was abducted by gunmen in Baghdad as she left the office of Sunni Arab politician Adnan Dulaimi on Jan. 7. Her Iraqi interpreter, Allan Enwiyah, was shot and killed.

CBS News reported that the name "Vengeance Brigade" appeared on a banner partially obscured by al-Jazeera's logo when the tape aired. A group by that name kidnapped a Swedish Iraqi politician in early 2005 and released him after demanding millions of dollars in ransom. It was not known if any ransom was paid in that case. Groups in Iraq often adopt and change names at will, and it was not known if the same band was responsible for both abductions.

Insurgent groups in Iraq often include among their demands the freeing of female detainees held by U.S. forces here. Shortly after the Carroll kidnapping, protesters at a Sunni mosque in Baghdad -- which had been raided by U.S. and Iraqi forces -- spoke angrily of what they said was the U.S. detention of a Sunni woman and her young daughter from the community of Abu Ghraib just outside the capital. U.S. authorities have not confirmed such a detention.

"Jill is an innocent journalist and we respectfully ask that you please show her mercy and allow her to return home," Carroll's family asked her abductors in a message issued by her father, Jim, and posted on the Web site of the Christian Science Monitor, the newspaper for which Carroll was working as a freelancer.

The statement said Carroll "has been dedicated to bringing the truth of the Iraq war to the world."

In other developments Tuesday, Iraq's president expressed confidence that the country's major political parties would form a united government in the weeks ahead, putting aside ethnic and sectarian rivalries for the sake of protecting the country's fragile democracy.

"We are keen that the government does not only include Kurds and Shiites," the dominant forces in Iraq's upcoming parliament, President Jalal Talabani said at a news conference in Baghdad, according to the Associated Press. It should also include the Sunni Arab-dominated Accordance Front and other blocs, he said.

At a time of intense violence and communal bickering, the need for a united government is rooted in practical politics, observers say.

Shiite Muslims, who make up about 60 percent of Iraq's population, won a convincing victory in the Dec. 15 elections, according to preliminary results, but will need support from other groups to form a stable government. Shiite and Kurdish parties, as well as U.S. officials, are also looking for a way to wean Sunni Arabs away from the insurgent movement responsible for much of the daily violence in Iraq.

To entice Sunnis into the political process, Shiites and Kurds are moving toward giving them a share of political power and yielding to demands that the country stay unified, rather than splitting along ethnic and sectarian lines into regional strongholds.

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