- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 21, 2006

BAGHDAD — Representatives of a U.S. Muslim advocacy group yesterday joined in appealing for the release of American journalist Jill Carroll as a deadline set by kidnappers passed with no word on her fate. At least 12 Iraqis died in bombings and shootings nationwide.

The U.S. military said yesterday a suicide car bomber killed two American Marines a day earlier in the volatile Anbar provincial town of Haqlaniyah, northwest of Baghdad. At least 2,224 U.S. military personnel have died since the Iraq war began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

Sunni Arab politicians, meanwhile, said they were ready for talks to join a new government of national unity — hailed by the United States as a necessary step to curb the Sunni-led insurgency and pave the way for American forces to go home.

But the politicians also said they would appeal results of the Dec. 15 election to a judicial commission, which has two weeks to rule on the challenges.

Two members of the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations flew to Baghdad yesterday to appeal for the release of Miss Carroll, 28, a freelancer for the Christian Science Monitor abducted Jan. 7 in western Baghdad.

“We are the only people who have come from outside of Iraq to call for Jill’s release, and we are very hopeful they will hear our message on behalf of American Muslims,” the group’s executive director, Nihad Awad, said at Baghdad International Airport. “Harming her will do them no good at all. The only way is to release her.”

Miss Carroll was leaving the office of prominent Sunni Arab politician Adnan al-Dulaimi when her car was waylaid, her translator was killed and she was abducted. The driver escaped.

The journalist has since been seen only in footage obtained and aired by Al Jazeera TV station Tuesday. Her kidnappers, identified as a previously unknown group — “the Revenge Brigade” — threatened to kill Miss Carroll if all Iraqi female prisoners weren’t released within 72 hours. The kidnappers have issued no word since the deadline passed Friday night.

More than 240 foreigners have been taken as hostages — either by insurgents or ransom gangs — since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, and at least 39 have been killed.

News of another high-profile abduction surfaced when footage of Hussein Sabah, the son of the secretary to Iraqi Defense Minister Saadoun al-Dulaimi, a Sunni, aired on Al Arabiya TV station yesterday.

The kidnappers of Mr. Sabah, who was abducted about 10 days ago in Baghdad’s Mansour suburb, demanded that the Iraqi government end its cooperation with United States.

Despite high hopes for peace, violence continued.

A car bomb exploded midday near a crowded market in eastern Baghdad, killing one person and wounding six, according to police. Three policemen were killed and five were injured in a car bombing in Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, authorities said.

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