WASHINGTON – German authorities have arrested a man who is accused of trying to extort $2 million from the Christian Science Monitor by promising to win the release of American reporter Jill Carroll, who was freed from captivity in Baghdad Thursday.
A U.S. arrest warrant and FBI affidavit made public Thursday by federal prosecutors in Washington said that Kelvin Kamara, a west African native living in Germany, struck up an e-mail exchange with a Monitor editor in Washington little more than a month after Carroll's abduction in early January. Kamara, calling himself Saidu Mohammed, said he knew who was holding Carroll and could arrange her freedom in exchange for the payment, the FBI affidavit said.
Kamara said he was working with two brigades who were willing to free Carroll from her captors, but were demanding ransom. "...you can raise two million dollars or else jill is likely to become history," Kamara wrote on Feb. 14 from a Yahoo mail account.
David Cook, chief of the paper's Washington bureau, alerted the FBI in an effort to determine if the person on other end of the e-mails really could help find Carroll, the court papers said. FBI counterterrorism agents quickly decided he could not and turned the probe over to fraud investigators.
Working with Cook and German police, FBI agents quickly zeroed in on Kamara, who they learned was living in the German city of Muenster. He was arrested March 16.
Kamara, who used several aliases, is a Nigerian or Liberian by birth who is in his late 20s. He also appeared to use his e-mail account to send out solicitations for "what are commonly referred to as Nigerian advance fee schemes," the affidavit said.