BOSTON – Former hostage Jill Carroll met with the staff of The Christian Science Monitor on Monday, visiting the newsroom of the paper that hired her a week after she was taken captive in Iraq.
The journalist was a freelancer for the Boston-based newspaper when she was kidnapped in January from one of Baghdad's most dangerous Sunni Arab neighborhoods by a group that called itself the Revenge Brigade.
The newspaper added her to its staff during her 82 days in captivity. She was released Thursday and returned to the United States on Sunday.
David Cook, the Monitor's Washington bureau chief, described Carroll's 45-minute visit with her colleagues as "an emotional lovefest." It was her first visit to the newsroom.
The Monitor released a copy of the six-minute video of the meeting and posted it on its Web site. The video shows her, with her relatives standing off to the side, delivering a composed but emotional thank-you to her newsroom colleagues.
"I just want to say how much I'm overwhelmed by how wonderful the paper has been to my family," said Carroll, 28. "I got back from this ordeal and discovered it's like a humanitarian organization."
Carroll has been in seclusion with her parents and twin sister since she arrived in Boston. She is not yet ready to tell her story to the public, Cook said.
Her kidnappers had demanded the release of all female detainees in Iraq, saying Carroll would be killed otherwise. U.S. officials released some female detainees but said it had nothing to do with the demands.
Cook declined at a news conference to discuss any diplomatic maneuvers that may have led to Carroll's release but implied there was more to the story than had been made public.
"I'm not commenting on who was contacted," Cook told reporters outside the Monitor's building.
But he added: "We tried to contact every possible branch of our government. We also contacted governments overseas."
A law enforcement official said a Baghdad-based hostage response team made up of the FBI and the State and Defense departments worked on the case. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of kidnapping cases.
The FBI helped bring Carroll's family together.
Monitor Editor Richard Bergenheim issued a statement Monday praising the U.S. government's "extensive" efforts.
"To note this while Jill was being held could have disrupted those efforts or endangered her life," the statement read. "U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad in Iraq and all the services of the United States that come under the embassy's umbrella worked on Jill's case with a passion."
Bergenheim also thanked the U.S. military and the FBI, singling out director Robert Mueller.
A senior defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the issue's sensitivity, would say only that the U.S. military had been constantly attempting to find her. Details would not be made public because the military may use some of the same methods for similar cases in the future, the official said.