- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 17, 2006

BAGHDAD — American hostage Jill Carroll appeared in a silent 20-second video aired yesterday by Al-Jazeera television, which said her abductors gave the United States 72 hours to free female prisoners in Iraq, or she would be killed.

The tape showed the 28-year-old freelance reporter sitting in front of a white background and speaking, but her voice could not be heard. On the tape, Miss Carroll is pale and appears tired, and her long, straight, brown hair is parted in the middle and pulled back from her face.

Al-Jazeera would not say how it received the tape, but the station issued its own statement calling for Miss Carroll’s release. An Al-Jazeera producer said no militant group’s name was attached to a message that was sent to the station yesterday with the tape.

Miss Carroll was on assignment for the Christian Science Monitor, and the newspaper released a statement from her family pleading with her captors to set her free.

“Jill is an innocent journalist, and we respectfully ask that you please show her mercy and allow her to return home to her mother, sister and family,” the statement said.

“Jill is a friend and sister to many Iraqis and has been dedicated to bringing the truth of the Iraq war to the world. We appeal for the speedy and safe return of our beloved daughter and sister.”

In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said, “We continue to make every effort we can, working with Iraqis and others, to see Miss Carroll is returned safe and sound.”

Miss Carroll was kidnapped Jan. 7 in one of Baghdad’s most dangerous neighborhoods. Gunmen ambushed her car and killed her translator shortly after she left the offices of a Sunni Arab politician, who failed to show up for the interview.

The U.S. military raided a prominent Sunni mosque a day after Miss Carroll was kidnapped, sparking a demonstration by hundreds of worshippers. A U.S. military official said the raid was a necessary immediate response to the kidnapping based on a tip provided by an Iraqi citizen.

Miss Carroll, who speaks some Arabic and wore a head covering while moving around Iraq, has been described by her editor as an aggressive reporter but not a reckless one. Insurgents in Iraq have kidnapped more than 240 foreigners and killed at least 39 of them.

Sunni Arab politicians meanwhile are discussing their possible participation in a coalition government, which the United States hopes will help defuse the Sunni-led insurgency and mend sectarian rifts between Sunnis and Shi’ites.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani predicted yesterday that the country’s most prominent Sunni Arab political group would join a national unity government after the Dec. 15 election results are announced.

National Security Adviser Mowaffak Rubaie told The Washington Times earlier that Sunni parties would be offered six seats in the new Cabinet.

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