Tue, Aug 15, 2006 - Page 7 News List

Ex-hostage Carroll recounts moments of terror, confusion


At one of the most desperate moments of her captivity in Iraq, fearing she was about to be beheaded, US reporter Jill Carroll pleaded with one of her captors for a quick death by pistol, saying: "I don't want the knife."

In her first public account of her 82-day hostage ordeal, Carroll said she had feared the worst when her captors said they planned to use her in a second propaganda video. The kidnappers, however, seemed confused when she made her request and said they did not plan to kill her.

Carroll describes the terror she felt, even during times her captors were civil to her, in the first segment of an 11-part series on the kidnapping. It was published on Sunday on the Web site of the Christian Science Monitor, where she is a staff writer.

Carroll said that within hours of her abduction at gunpoint in Baghdad, she was taken to two homes, dressed in new clothes, fed a chicken and rice meal and invited to watch television with the family of one of her captors.

"They all seemed concerned that I think they were good, or at least that they were treating me well," Carroll wrote.

"It sounds hospitable. But in my mind every second was a test -- the choice of food, TV program, everything -- and they would kill me if I gave the wrong answer," she wrote.

The 28-year-old journalist was kidnapped on Jan. 7 and her Iraqi interpreter, Alan Enwiya, was shot dead. She was released near a Sunni Arab political party office in Baghdad 82 days later and returned to the US on April 2.

The Web site also contains video clips of Carroll describing her abduction, detention and survival. It's the first time Carroll, who a freelance writer when she was abducted, has told her story.

She said her kidnappers, a previously unknown group calling itself the Revenge Brigade, took her to two different homes on the first day, starting with a tiny, three-room house in Baghdad's outskirts.

At the second home, she was questioned about her job, religion, whether anyone in her family drank alcohol and whether her computer had a device to signal the government or military, she recalled.

"Then in a slightly gravelly voice, the interpreter explained the situation," she said.

Her kidnappers wanted all female detainees in Iraq to be freed, and threatened to kill Carroll if they weren't. US officials did release some women but said the decision was unrelated to the demands.

Carroll said she was offered food and invited to watch television with the family of one of her kidnappers.

"How do you channel surf with the mujahidin? I asked myself that question as I flipped from one show to another, trying to act casual. Politics was out. News was out. Anything that might show even a flash of skin was out. Finally, I found Channel 1 from Dubai, and Oprah was on."

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