Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Jill Carroll Update Blog

The CS Monitor is publishing a blog in addition to whatever other outlets they may use to cover the Jill Carroll story. I have added it to my list for the time being but apparently the story itself will not hit the blog until it is ready for archiving. There is so much at the Monitor website that I don't find navigation there quick and easy. They get credit for being comprehensive for sure.

Part Three of the story is up today. There are two names in the byline, hers and that of Peter Grier. Attributions make it easy for the reader to know who is producing the content.

A related article speculates that the same people who kidnapped Jill Carroll were also involved in several others. She believes they might also have had contact with the group that held the Christian Peacemaker hostages, eventually killing Tom Fox.

Jill Carroll is persuaded that her captors had close ties, if not direct involvement, with the kidnappers of the Christian Peacemakers Team.

"Since my captors viewed all mujahideen as part of the same worldwide movement... it is unclear how many of these kidnappings were carried out by the same individuals who took me, and how many were carried out by separate but allied groups," she says.

It seems likely that Ms. Carroll's captors and those holding the Christian Peacemakers, including American Tom Fox, were at least communicating with one another.

On or around Feb. 27, Carroll's captors made a video of her pleading for the release of a Jordanian prisoner. Later the same day, her chief captor, Abu Nour, told her: "We killed an American today." He said the hostage was killed because the US government failed to meet a 48-hour deadline to release Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, the blind Egyptian cleric serving a life sentence in the US for organizing the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.

At the time, Carroll had no idea who the victim might be.

But about two weeks later, she saw a television news report saying that the body of Mr. Fox, the American member of the Christian Peacemakers Team, was found in Baghdad. The Iraqi police say he was killed within 24 hours of his body being recovered on March 9.

While the discrepancy in the date of Fox's murder is odd, it may just point to the fact that Abu Nour had infrequent contact with the cell that held the Christian Peacemakers and didn't know they'd changed their plans.

In a phone interview from his home in Canada, CPT member James Loney says that he and the other CPT hostages were told on March 7 that their captors were demanding the release of a blind man in a US prison, and mentioned Omar Abdul-Rahman.

The demand for Mr. Rahman's release in exchange for Fox's life has never been made public before. Unless they were in close communication, how did Carroll's captors know what Mr. Loney's captors were demanding?

Carroll's captors often talked openly around her in Arabic. While her Arabic is not fluent, she understood much of what was said. After about a month in captivity, her guards complained to their leader about having to guard her. He replied: "She isn't the only one."

After that, she heard them mention on multiple occasions something about the Canadians and British. At the time, Carroll didn't know the nationalities (two Canadians, a Brit, and an American) of the Christian Peacemakers Team. At one point, Abu Rasha told her: "We have another Jill."

But Carroll didn't know what that meant. Another woman? Another journalist? Another American?

Later one of her guards claimed the mujahideen had released the Christian Peacemaker Team. "Three days ago they paid [a ransom] to let them go," he told Carroll, quoting his boss and countering a TV news report he was watching that said the three men had been rescued by coalition forces on March 23.

This item is interesting...
There were other similarities in how the captors behaved and treated the two Western women. Each was held in Iraqi homes, in dark rooms. Their captors pretended to be Shiite, when they were devout Sunnis. They encouraged the women to convert to Islam. In the final videos of Sgrena and Carroll, made just before their release, their captors ordered them to say they were well treated, and voiced their support for journalists.

The many layer of deception involved here are bewildering. It is my understanding that prior to her capture Jill Carroll was about to interview a Sunni cleric. Her reporting could be seen as being favorable, if anything, to the Sunni cause (whatever that might be). If her captors were trying to manipulate her into later presenting a favorable image of them, that they would pretend to be Shiite is at least very odd.

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