BOSTON – The family of an American reporter abducted in Baghdad appealed for mercy after her captors threatened to kill her if U.S. authorities don't release all Iraqi women in military custody by Friday.
Jill Carroll, 28, a freelancer for the Boston-based Christian Science Monitor, was kidnapped Jan. 7. On Tuesday, she was seen for the first time since her abduction on a silent, 20-second video clip released to Al-Jazeera television. Station officials said the video also included the threat to kill her if the Iraqi women weren't freed.
U.S. military spokeswoman Sgt. Stacy Simon said eight Iraqi women are currently detained, but provided no further details.
Carroll's father, Jim, issued a statement later Tuesday in which he called his daughter "an innocent journalist."
"We respectfully ask that you please show her mercy and allow her to return home to her mother, sister and family," the statement said.
The family's statement said Carroll understands the daily hardships being suffered by the Iraqis.
"Jill is a friend and sister to many Iraqis and has been dedicated to bringing the truth of the Iraq war to the world," it said. "We appeal for the speedy and safe return of our beloved daughter and sister."
Carroll was abducted in one of Baghdad's most dangerous neighborhoods while being driven to meet a Sunni Arab politician, who failed to appear for the interview. Carroll's translator was killed, but her driver escaped.
"Efforts are continuing to find the American journalist," said Gen. Hussein Kamal, Iraq's deputy interior minister in charge of domestic intelligence. "We cannot say more because of the sensitivity of the matter, but God willing the end will be positive."
A still photograph of Carroll from the videotape on Al-Jazeera's Web site carried a logo reading "The Revenge Brigade," a group that was not known from previous claims of responsibility of violence in Iraq.
Carroll grew up in Ann Arbor, Mich., and received an undergraduate degree in journalism in 1999 from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She worked as a reporting assistant for The Wall Street Journal before moving to Jordan and launching her freelance career in 2002.
The Christian Science Monitor said she arrived in Iraq in 2003 and began filing stories for the newspaper early last year. Editor Richard Bergenheim also appealed for Carroll's release.
"They have seized an innocent person who is a great admirer of the Iraqi people," he said. "She is a professional journalist whose only goal has been to report truthfully about Iraq and to promote understanding.
"Jill is in our prayers."