- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 31, 2006

BAGHDAD — Al Jazeera aired a new videotape yesterday of kidnapped U.S. journalist Jill Carroll, showing her wearing an Islamic veil and weeping as she purportedly appealed for the release of female Iraqi prisoners.

The video was dated Saturday, two days after the U.S. military released five Iraqi female detainees. U.S. officials said the release had nothing to do with the kidnappers’ demands.

The video had no sound except for a single noncommittal phrase uttered by Miss Carroll, but the Al Jazeera newscaster said Miss Carroll appealed to the U.S. military and the Iraqi Interior Ministry to free all women in their prisons and said this “would help in winning her release.”

The U.S. military released five Iraqi women on Thursday and was believed be holding several more. It was not clear how many women were held by Iraqi authorities.

If the date is correct, it would be the first sighting of Miss Carroll since a Jan. 20 deadline her captors set in an earlier video, threatening to kill her if all Iraqi women weren’t released from U.S. and Iraqi prisons. The deadline passed with no word on her fate amid widespread calls from Iraqi and Islamic leaders for her to be freed.

At one point, Miss Carroll’s cracking voice can be heard from behind the newscaster’s voice. All that can be heard is Miss Carroll saying, “hope for the families.”

The name of the group that has claimed responsibility for the abduction, the Revenge Brigades, appeared in the top left corner of the video aired yesterday.

Armed men abducted Miss Carroll, a 28-year-old freelance reporter for the Christian Science Monitor, on Jan. 7 in Baghdad.

Meanwhile, ABC News anchorman Bob Woodruff, who was seriously injured Sunday by a roadside bomb in Iraq, has shown signs of improvement and may be airlifted from Germany to the United States as soon as today, the network’s officials said in New York yesterday.

A hospital official said body armor likely saved the journalist’s life.

Cameraman Doug Vogt, also hurt in the explosion, is in better shape than Mr. Woodruff, and doctors were pleased with how both handled the transfer to a U.S. military base in Germany, ABC News President David Westin said.

Mr. Vogt was taping a stand-up report with Mr. Woodruff and both were standing in the open hatch of an Iraqi military vehicle when the bomb went off. They underwent surgery in Iraq before being flown to Germany.

“They’re both very seriously injured, but stable,” said Col. Bryan Gamble, commander of the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in western Germany.

Their body armor likely saved them, “otherwise these would have been fatal wounds,” Col. Gamble said.

Mr. Woodruff, 44, and Mr. Vogt, 46, an award-winning cameraman, were embedded with the 4th Infantry Division and traveling in a convoy with U.S. and Iraqi troops 12 miles north of Baghdad, when the device exploded. An Iraqi solder also was hurt.

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