Jill Carroll said to be "emotionally fragile" after long captivity
BAGHDAD, Iraq – Jill Carroll, described as “emotionally fragile,” went reluctantly to Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone – the place her captors had warned her was infiltrated with insurgents – and spent Friday in seclusion, recovering from 82 days of captivity.In a video posted on an Islamist Web site and recorded by her captors before she was freed, the 28-year-old freelancer for The Christian Science Monitor – dropped off Thursday outside the offices of a Sunni political party – spoke out against the U.S. military presence.”Tens of thousands … have lost their lives here because of the occupation,” she said in the video. “I think Americans need to think about that and realize day-to-day how difficult life is here.”She said the insurgents were “only trying to defend their country … to stop an illegal and dangerous and deadly occupation.”U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Liz Colton declined comment, saying all queries regarding Carroll were being handled by her family and the Monitor.The Monitor’s editor, Richard Bergenheim, said that Carroll’s parents, who spoke to her about the video, told him it was “conducted under duress.””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 told ABC’s “Good Morning America.”He told NBC’s “Today” show that Carroll was “emotionally fragile” but doing well after her ordeal and that her family wanted her to delay her departure until she was “strong enough, emotionally and otherwise.”She was flying to Germany and expected to arrive at Ramstein Air Base near Landstuhl at 8 a.m. local time (1 a.m. EST) Saturday, Ramstein officials told The Associated Press. It was unclear if she would stay there for exams at the U.S. military’s Landstuhl Regional Medical Center or travel on to the United States.Carroll, who was seized Jan. 7 in western Baghdad by gunmen who killed her Iraqi translator, was dropped off Thursday at an office of the Iraqi Islamic Party, a Sunni Arab organization, and later escorted to the Green Zone by the U.S. military, the Monitor said Friday. The newspaper said her captors had warned her not to cooperate with the Americans and said the Green Zone was infiltrated with insurgents.At first, she was reluctant to go, but a Monitor writer in Baghdad, Scott Peterson, convinced her it was safe, the newspaper said.In a video posted on an Islamist Web site, her abductors said they released Carroll because “the American government met some of our demands by releasing some of our women from prison.”The kidnappers, calling themselves the Revenge Brigades, had demanded the release of all female detainees in Iraq by Feb. 26 or Carroll would be killed.U.S. officials did release some female detainees at the time, but said it had nothing to do with the kidnappers’ demands. On Thursday, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said the United States is still holding four women.Most of the video consisted of an interview with Carroll, who answered questions about the state of Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion three years ago. She defended the Iraqi people and talked of the hardships they face.”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 said Americans have failed to grasp that reality in Iraq.Carroll appeared tense at times 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.”It was not possible to reach Carroll to ask her whether she actually held any of the views expressed. Jim Carroll, her father, told the Monitor that the abductors told her daughter she would have to make a video praising her captors and attacking the United States to secure her freedom.Her captors “obviously wanted maximum propaganda value in the U.S.,” Jim Carroll told the Monitor. “After listening to them for three months she already knew exactly what they wanted her to say, so she gave it to them with appropriate acting to make it look convincing.”In the video, the journalist calls on President Bush to send American troops home.”He knows this war was 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.”She said that “terrible things are happening” to the women in Abu Ghraib prison, but that the mujahedeen were different from the Americans.”The mujahedeen are merciful and kind,” she said. “That’s why I am free and alive.”Vail, Colorado
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