Monday, January 09, 2006

Kidnapped Journalist Named

As first reported here, the journalist who was kidnapped is Jill Carroll who was working for the Christian Science Monitor.

See details here.

BAGHDAD AND PARIS – Jill Carroll, a freelance journalist currently on assignment for The Christian Science Monitor, was abducted by unknown gunmen in Baghdad Saturday morning. Her Iraqi interpreter was killed during the kidnapping.

"I saw a group of people coming as if they had come from the sky," recalled Ms. Carroll's driver, who survived the attack. "One guy attracted my attention. He jumped in front of me screaming, 'Stop! Stop! Stop!' with his left hand up and a pistol in his right hand."

One of the kidnappers pulled the driver from the car, jumped in, and drove away with several others huddled around Carroll and her interpreter, said the driver, who asked not to be identified. "They didn't give me any time to even put the car in neutral," he recounted.

The body of the interpreter, Allan Enwiyah, 32, was later found in the same neighborhood. He had been shot twice in the head, law enforcement officials said. There has been no word yet on Carroll's whereabouts.

The kidnapping occurred within 300 yards of the office of Adnan al-Dulaimi, a prominent Sunni politician, whom Carroll had been intending to interview at 10 a.m. Saturday local time, the driver said.

Mr. Dulaimi, however, turned out not to be at his office, and after 25 minutes, Carroll and her interpreter left. Their car was stopped as she drove away. "It was very obvious this was by design," said the driver. "The whole operation took no more than a quarter of a minute. It was very highly organized. It was a setup, a perfect ambush."

Read more at Iraqi American.

Another friend is on the blogosphere is reporting as well.

Report says that the Iraqi police and US military are actively looking for her

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraqi police were searching Monday for an American journalist who was kidnapped over the weekend when gunmen ambushed her car and killed her translator in western Baghdad.

Jill Carroll, 28, a freelance reporter on assignment for The Christian Science Monitor, was seized Saturday in the al-Adel area, a Sunni Arab neighborhood and one of the capital's most dangerous. Police said she went there to meet a Sunni Arab politician.

Gen. Mahdi al-Gharawi, commander of the Interior Ministry's public order forces, said Monday an investigation was under way.

"The ministry is working on this issue and investigations and searches are under way. We are gathering information through our sources and we cannot say more," al-Gharawi said.

The neighborhood is one of Baghdad's roughest and has been the site of numerous attacks against U.S. and Iraqi troops and security forces. It is also home to the Umm al-Qura mosque, headquarters of the Association of Muslim Scholars, a major Sunni clerical group that is believed to have ties to some insurgent groups.
The mosque was raided by U.S. troops shortly before dawn Sunday. An American military official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation, said the raid was a necessary immediate response to the kidnapping based on a tip provided by an Iraqi citizen. The military said Sunday that six people were detained. No other details were released.

A report from Jill last year in the American Journalism Review which talked about being a free lance journalist in Iraq.

The sense that I could do more good in the Middle East than in the U.S. drove me to move to Jordan six months before the war to learn as much about the region as possible before the fighting began. All I ever wanted to be was a foreign correspondent, so when I was laid off from my reporting assistant job at the Wall Street Journal in August 2002, it seemed the right time to try to make it happen. There was bound to be plenty of parachute journalism once the war started, and I didn't want to be a part of that.

Idealistic, for sure, but I am not the only one. Ashraf Khalil had the same motivation. The 33-year-old Chicago native had been living in Cairo for six years as a freelancer when he decided his years of experience in the region could add depth to the torrent of coverage coming out of Iraq.

"I feel I have a responsibility to try to bring something to these stories," says Khalil, who freelanced in Iraq in January and February 2004 and is now a reporter in the Los Angeles Times' Baghdad bureau. "I spent a lot of time waiting for someone to sponsor me, and finally I realized it just wasn't going to happen unless I did it myself."

It isn't easy to fulfill such a lofty mandate when people are out looking for foreigners to behead. The days are long gone when car bombs and attacks on military convoys were so infrequent we could keep track of the date and place of each one. [snip]

Key to many freelancers' financial survival is the $20-a-night al Dulaimi hotel. With its Baroque-on-a-budget d├ęcor, reminiscent of its pre-war reputation as a brothel, the hotel is home to scores of freelancers, bed bugs and garish velveteen furniture. The tall white building in the Jadriyah neighborhood of Baghdad was still home to a working prostitute when one of the first reporters moved in across the hall in the summer of 2003. Everyone knows to buy new sheets before checking into the Dulaimi.

Then, in April 2005, reports on Iraq's Fastest Growing Industry: Kidnapping

Abu Mohammed was chatting with a friend in an auto repair shop in Salman Pak two months ago when masked gunmen surrounded him and stuffed his 260-pound frame in their trunk and sped away.

He spent the next 10 days locked in a bathroom with a hood over his head, marking the passage of time by listening to his captors' prayers.

I hope she remembers that.

However, an un-sourced report says al Qaida is reporting holding a US Journalist hostage (the link says it's from the Times Online in the UK but I can't get it to work so it may have been taken down until it could be collaborated or because there was a 24 media black out to try and arrange her freedom)

Jill's sister Katie was blogging at Lady of Arabia for awhile but it has since been taken down (sometime after November since that's the last post in the cached version). Update: According to this, Katie had last updated her post last Tuesday. I don't see it everytime I try to look it up. Maybe she took it down afterwards for safety reasons?

The good news is, she speaks Arabic some. The bad news is, she works for the Christian Science Monitor. Not a good sign if she was kidnapped by AQ and they watch the news or google her pieces.

Let's get some attention on this folks. We know that journalists like Jill are some of the few who try to go out and get the story without big media behind them. These are the kind of reporters we are always looking for to tell us what is really going on. She didn't hole up in a big hotel and only role within the green zone. This of course, highlights the dangers of doing what we ask journalists to do: go outside and report.

Don't forget Jill Carroll.

To her kidnappers, let Jill Carroll go. She is no threat to you and has been a fair reporter on Iraq and the citizens there. Her job was simply to report. We ask you to respect her position as a non-combatant observer and release her immediately.

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