American Muslim Group Seeks Release of Kidnapped Journalist

An American Muslim advocacy group is traveling to the Middle East to plead for the safe return of a journalist facing death at the hands of her kidnappers.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations is planning to hold one news conference Thursday in Amman, Jordan, and another Friday in Baghdad. The group hopes to reach Arab television audiences and convince the captors of Jill Carroll, a freelancer for the Boston-based Christian Science Monitor, to release her.

"We're taking a serious step on behalf of our community, and we are hopeful that our words will be heard and our appeal will be listened to," said Nihad Awad, executive director of CAIR. "We have been reading about her work ... and though we don't know her, we know it is wrong to kidnap people and hurt innocent people."

Carroll, 28, was kidnapped Jan. 7 in one of Baghdad's most dangerous neighborhoods. She was being driven to meet a Sunni Arab politician, who failed to appear for the interview. Carroll's translator was killed, but her driver escaped.

The group claiming responsibility has threatened to kill Carroll on Friday unless all Iraqi women in military custody are released. A U.S. military spokeswoman, Sgt. Stacy Simon, said eight Iraqi women are currently detained. She provided no further details.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Wednesday that Carroll's "safe return is a priority" and he did not want to talk about it further because of the sensitivity of the situation.

CAIR, based in Washington, works to promote a positive image of Islam and Muslims in the United States.