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Jill Carroll: finally free

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Monitor Editor Richard Bergenheim said Thursday: "This is an exciting day, we couldn't be happier. We are so pleased she'll be back with her family. The prayers of people all over the world have been answered."

President George Bush had said Carroll's release was a top priority for his administration, and her freedom was welcomed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at a press conference in Berlin. Ms. Rice spoke of the "great delight and great relief of the United States, the people of the United States and, I'm sure, the people of the world at the release today of Jill Carroll."

Carroll's release followed half a dozen false leads in the effort to free her - people who contacted the Monitor or the Carroll family. Some demanded exorbitant ransoms, but never managed to produce a "proof of life." One scam artist, calling himself a repentant member of the kidnapper group and seeking a payoff, turned out to be a young Nigerian and was arrested in Germany. Other would-be players said they had contacts and could free her, but never delivered.

Her support among Iraqis appeared to be quite strong. Several Iraqi newspapers and television stations took up her cause. They reported her story, editorialized for her freedom, and donated public-service announcements designed by the Monitor's Baghdad correspondents that pleaded for Carroll's release.

Even the mother of a young Iraqi woman detained for months by the government without charges and finally released in late January was willing to speak publicly on Carroll's behalf. Politicians across the Iraqi political spectrum, especially leaders from the Sunni sect also spoke out emotionally on Carroll's behalf.

Across the Muslim world, voices not normally heard on behalf of an American, called for Jill's release: Hamas in the Palestinian territories, the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo, and many others.

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