NEW YORK – Jill Carroll's kidnappers reportedly warned her before her release that she might be killed if she cooperated with the Americans or went to the Green Zone, saying it was infiltrated by insurgents.
The freelance writer for The Christian Science Monitor, who was freed by her captors Thursday and dropped off at a branch office of the Iraqi Islamic Party, was later escorted to the Green Zone by the U.S. military, the newspaper said Friday.
At first, she was reluctant to go, but a Monitor writer in Baghdad, Scott Peterson, convinced her it was safe, the newspaper said.
The Monitor quoted her family as saying that her kidnappers had warned her against talking to the Americans or going to the Green Zone. They told her it was "infiltrated by the mujahedeen," the newspaper said.
Her captors, calling themselves the Revenge Brigades, had demanded the release of all female detainees in Iraq by Feb. 26 and said Carroll would be killed otherwise.
In a video purportedly from her kidnappers that was posted on the Internet, her abductors said Carroll was released because "the American government met some of our demands by releasing some of our women from prison." The video was found on an Islamic Web site where such material has appeared before.
But U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said Thursday there was no connection between the recent release of several female Iraqi detainees and Carroll's freedom.
"What we did before had no connection with Jill Carroll," Khalilzad said. "We still have a few female detainees — four — and that's all I can say on that."
The Monitor's editor, Richard Bergenheim, also said no money had been exchanged for Carroll's release. "We simply know she was dropped off at the Iraqi Islamic Party headquarters," he said.
Carroll, who was kidnapped Jan. 7 in Baghdad, said Thursday she was not harmed by her captors and added that she did not know why she was released.
Also on the Internet video, Carroll is shown answering questions, presumably from her captors, and saying that Iraqi insurgents were "only trying to defend their country ... to stop an illegal and dangerous and deadly occupation."
"So I think people need to understand in America how difficult life is here for the normal, average Iraqis ... how terrifying it is for most people to live here every day because of the occupation," she said on the video.
Bergenheim said Friday that Carroll's parents, who spoke to her about the video, told him it was "conducted under duress."
"What emerged was that they actually started filming this tape the night before and then there was a power outage. Jill had been told the questions, asked to translate them from Arabic into English," he told ABC's "Good Morning America."
"When you're making a video and having to recite certain things with three men with machine guns standing over you, you're probably going to say exactly what you're told to say," Bergenheim added.
In the video, she said her captors, whom she called the mujahedeen, had treated her very well — "like a guest" — and that she thought the "mujahedeen are the ones who will win in the end in this war."
"No matter what Americans try to say is happening here or try to do with all their weapons, they aren't going to be able to stay here, they're not going to be able to stop the mujahedeen," she said. "That's for sure."
She defended the Iraqi people, and highlighted their current struggle.
"People don't have electricity. They don't have water," she said. "Children don't have safe streets to walk in. Women and children are always in danger."
She also called on President Bush to send American troops home.
"He knows this war is wrong," she said. "He knows it was illegal from the very beginning. He knows that it was built on a mountain of lies. I think he needs to finally admit to the American people and make the troops go home.
"He needs to wake up," she said. "The people in America need to wake up and tell him what he's done here is wrong."
The U.S. Embassy spokeswoman in Baghdad declined to comment on the video, saying all queries regarding Carroll were being handled by her family and the Monitor.
Iraq's Interior Ministry said it had no information regarding Carroll's departure plans, which an Iraqi official said were being handled by the Americans.
Bergenheim said the 28-year-old Carroll is "emotionally fragile" after 82 days in captivity and will begin her journey home as soon as possible.
"Yesterday was way too soon. I think they're investigating whether she could leave today," he told NBC's "Today" show. "But her family wants to make sure that she's strong enough, emotionally and otherwise, to take this step."