- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 9, 2006

The U.S. military said yesterday that it has detained four persons thought to be involved in the kidnapping of Jill Carroll, the Christian Science Monitor journalist who spent 82 days in captivity before being freed in March.

In separate action, three soldiers assigned to the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division died in hostilities in Anbar yesterday, the military said.

Two crewmen were missing after an Army helicopter crashed Tuesday in the same province, apparently not as a result of hostile action. Four other crewmen were in stable condition.

Working from detailed intelligence reports, U.S. forces arrested the four in several operations near the western city of Fallujah and Baghdad, said Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, spokesman for Multi-National Force-Iraq.

U.S. and Iraqi forces ramped up their fight to retake the streets of Baghdad from sectarian militias whose prolonged killing campaigns have left thousands of tortured corpses on the streets and in morgues.

Gen. Caldwell fended off Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s criticism of an Iraqi-U.S. raid on the Shi’ite Mahdi Army stronghold of Baghdad’s Sadr City neighborhood, which ended in civilian casualties from air strikes Monday.

“The intent was to go in and apprehend the individual in question and then come out. The Iraqis were fired upon and used escalation of force. They had to use some air support in order to extract themselves,” Gen. Caldwell said.

He said that there was no question Mr. al-Maliki was in charge of Iraq but that he might not have full details on all of the numerous operations taking place.

“These are decisions made by local commanders making decisions based on local intelligence that is often very fleeting,” he said.

The spokesman said the success of the multilateral campaign, which includes job creation and the restoration of basic services, would not be clear for several months.

“What the real test will be is what is life like in the November-to-December time frame,” he said.

Gen. Caldwell detailed how troops on the ground tracked down those thought to have abducted Miss Carroll, showing reporters photographs and a video of the locations targeted by Marines.

“Young Marines and sailors … paid attention to what may have been considered minor details at the time,” such as a small structure above a door and a specific gate, and matched them with intelligence reports, Gen. Caldwell said.

It was the first time the U.S. military had released information regarding work on the kidnapping after Miss Carroll was set free.

U.S. and Iraqi forces are battling death squads operating throughout Baghdad that regularly kidnap, intimidate and kill, the spokesman said.

The activities, including those under the capitalwide Forward Together campaign, are among the 400 to 480 company-level operations that take place every week across Iraq.

“That’s a huge magnitude,” Gen. Caldwell said, adding that even more operations are conducted below the company level.

Marines pursuing intelligence regarding kidnappers first entered a house where Miss Carroll was thought to have been detained in al-Habbaniya, a town west of Fallujah in Anbar province, the spokesman said.

Once in the house, one Marine noticed other distinct features, such as a particular bookcase on the second floor, that matched intelligence information he had read. The owner of the house was then arrested, Gen. Caldwell said.

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