On Jill Carroll's Release
President Bush, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and US ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad all expressed great relief and happiness on learning that Christian Science Monitor reporter Jill Carroll was released unharmed near an office of the Iraqi Islamic Party yesterday, after almost three months in captivity. Ambassador Khalilzad told reporters
the United States made no agreements with the captors and paid no ransom to secure Carroll's release.
She was abducted by terrorists on January 7, 2006 in western Baghdad, where she'd traveled to interview Sunni Arab politician Adnan Dulaimi. Her driver escaped; the terrorists killed her interpreter. Carroll had chosen to ignore the sound advice given to all reporters who venture beyond the Green Zone, or sometimes even in it, to take prudent security measures. Whether she believed that her love of the Iraqi people and total identification with them would somehow protect her is not known. Interestingly, in a copyrighted American Journalism Review article dated Feb—Mar. 2005 she wrote,
The anger and violence have only gotten worse since then (the Fallujah battle), and a new terror has been added: kidnapping.
During the months of her captivity, strenuous efforts — diplomatic, military, spiritual and private sector — were undertaken to secure her freedom. The Christian Science Monitor pulled out all the stops. With production assistance from CNN, they paid for and scripted 60 and 90 second spots calling for her release that ran on Iraqi television. Why shouldn't they? They wanted to do everything they could to effect the desired outcome.
But if the US command in Baghdad hires Lincoln Group to get the truth about ongoing operations published in Iraqi newspapers, a perfectly ethical and legal process, all hell breaks loose. Go figure.
Jill Carroll, in the previously—cited American Journalism Review article, spoke about always wanting to be a foreign correspondent, that after being laid off by the Wall Street Journal in 2002, the U Mass/Amherst graduate took the plunge and flew to Jordan. A January 16, 2006 editorial in the Jordan Times, cited at the Christian Science Monitor (CSM) website said:
Jill Carroll worked at the Jordan Times for one year — long enough for anyone who would come across her to be convinced beyond any doubt of her genuine interest in the Middle East, her sincere admiration for Arab culture and utmost respect for the Arab people. A few months after the US invasion (of Iraq), she left Jordan for Iraq, prompted by the desire to show as vast an audience as possible the human tragedies caused by the war and the hardships of the people.
All well and good, except of course that, if you're an intellectually honest journalist, you know that by thus restricting your reportorial basis, you've abandoned objectivity; for the best of intentions and noblest of motives, you have ceased being a reporter and, perforce, become an advocate, a term Ms. Carroll and her paper will hotly deny.
At that same CSM site you can read what the leader of Iraq's Muslim Scholar's Association (an umbrella group of leading Sunni clerics), Muthanna Harith al—Dhari, thought of Jill Carroll:
This journalist is one of the great journalists who are against the occupation. She is considered one of the best journalists who stood against the American occupation of Iraq and she focused on... telling the world about the Iraqi people's suffering.
Further on at the CSM site, you can read what the blogger Baghdad Treasure had to say:
She sympathized with its sufferings and was committed to tell the truth. When I talked to her about how Iraqis live, she always cried... for the sufferings of Iraqis more than Iraqis (themselves do). When I blamed Iraqis for what is happening in the country, she said, "don't blame the Iraqis. You should blame the governments for what they do."
Questions remain about who kidnapped Carroll. Initial reports identified her captors as the Revenge Brigades. If you Google them, you find that they have aliases such as the Al—Isawi Martyr Brigade, or, Martyr Brigade Al—Isawi. This bunch had previously kidnapped the leader of Iraq's Democratic Christian Party, Minas Ibrahim al—Yusufi. In a February 2006 MSNBC report, Iraqi Interior Minister Bayan Jabr said that Jill Carroll had been kidnapped by the Islamic Army in Iraq, a major terrorist organization that in 2004 announced that it was collaborating with fellow terrorist organizations Ansar al—Sunna and Zarqawi's Al Qaeda in Iraq. For solid information on all these terrorist groups, go to www.tkb.org or the SITE Institute.
Questions also remain as to whys and wherefores of her release. Clues were offered during Multi—National Force Iraq spokesman, Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch's March 23 briefing when he discussed the liberation of the Christian Peacemaker Team personnel.
Last night, coalition forces conducted an operation and came up with two detainees (who) provided actionable intelligence about the location of the hostages. We got that information; at 8:00 a.m. this morning we conducted the coalition (rescue) operation. We moved to the indicated location in western Baghdad (and) conducted an assault on the house...the three hostages were gathered up, moved and debriefed....
MG Lynch stressed that the actionable intel was provided by a detainee who had been interrogated, that
...we'll continue operations to free all hostages, and all these operations are intertwined; you learn from one operation to benefit another.
He described the west Baghdad kidnapping cell who grabbed the three hostages as 'robust' but did not identify it. He was then asked if there was any word on Jill Carroll. 'None that I can discuss at this time,' replied Lynch. The answer suggests the possibility that some of the just—liberated hostages provided potentially actionable intelligence.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan subsequently stated that no US forces were involved in Carroll's release. What about Iraqi or non—US forces? We know that in the weeks following her abduction, Iraqi police mounted several raids in hopes of rescuing her.
It is my belief is that ongoing, increasingly successful anti—terrorist operations in and around Baghdad by Iraqi and coalition forces constitute a contributory cause for her being released. For instance, Operation Northern Lights, involving the 6th Iraqi Army division, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine regiment and 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry, 10th Mountain Division has generated regular patrols and raids west of Baghdad that have resulted in numerous weapons caches uncovered and terror suspects captured.
Whether or not Iraqi and coalition forces are the immediate or proximal cause for hostage rescue or release; whether or not freed hostages thank them for their freedom, the fact of the matter is that, whether you are pro or anti—American, pro or anti—war, if you are held hostage by terrorists in Iraq, every possible effort, with its attendant risks, will be exerted to liberate you. Along with her family and friends, we are indeed gladdened by the news of Jill Carroll's release from captivity.
The video that ABC News has breathlessly discussed at its website must be viewed in context and with a huge grain of skeptical salt. Jill Carroll was still in captivity when she made those laudatory comments about her captors and the mujahadeen, those highly critical remarks about Pres. Bush and the war in Iraq. Even if she half believed them, they were made under duress, so she's to be give the benefit of the doubt... unless of course she subsequently verifies those beliefs.
John B. Dwyer is a military historian and a frequent contributor to The American Thinker.