BAGHDAD, Iraq – American reporter Jill Carroll is being held by the Islamic Army in Iraq, the insurgent group that freed two French journalists in 2004 after four months in captivity, Iraq's Interior Minister said Tuesday.
Interior Minister Bayan Jabr, who is in charge of Iraq's police, also said he believed the 28-year-old freelance reporter for The Christian Science Monitor is still alive, although the deadline set by her captors for the U.S. to meet their demands expired Sunday.
Three videotapes provided by the kidnappers to Arab satellite television stations identified the group holding her as the previously unknown "Revenge Brigades." She was seized Jan. 7 in Baghdad and her translator was killed.
However, Jabr told Iraqi television that he believes Carroll is being held by the Islamic Army in Iraq, one of the country's principal insurgent groups.
Jabr said the same group was responsible for kidnapping his sister, who was seized about four days before Carroll and freed about two weeks later.
"The kidnapping of the American journalist, Jill Carroll, occurred about the same time as the abduction of my sister," he said. "I was equally keen to get both of them released. I recognized that the Islamic army was responsible for both plots."
Jabr said he sent a message to his sister's kidnappers and asked for help in winning Carroll's freedom. He said he also provided information on the case to the FBI.
The Islamic Army in Iraq has been involved in kidnappings before, including the Aug. 20, 2004, abduction of French journalists Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot. They were freed the following December.
The group killed Italian journalist Enzo Baldoni, who also was abducted in 2004, and claimed it killed American contractor Ronald Schulz last December.
Jabr is among the most controversial figures in Iraq because of allegations his ministry sanctions "death squads" that have kidnapped and assassinated Sunni civilians. U.S. officials have demanded changes in the ministry in the new government expected to take power this year after the Dec. 15 elections.