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The Jill Carroll Story – Part 1: The kidnapping

Jillian Tamaki

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My chief captor had an idea about how to prod the US government into action: another video.

He said this one would be different, and left.

I turned to the two guards sitting on cushions a few feet away and started to panic. Really, really panic.

"Oh my God, oh my God, they're going to kill me, this is going to be it. I don't know when but they're going to do it," I thought.

I crawled over to Abu Hassan, the one who seemed more grown-up and sympathetic. His 9mm pistol was by his side, as usual.

"You're my brother, you're truly my brother," I said in Arabic. "Promise me you will use this gun to kill me by your own hand. I don't want that knife, I don't want the knife, use the gun."

I started to cry hysterically. By now I'd been held captive by Iraqi insurgents for six weeks. They'd given me a new hijab, a new name (Aisha), and tried to convert me to Islam. They'd let me play with their children – and repeatedly accused me of working for the CIA.

At night I'd fall asleep and be free in my dreams. Then I'd wake up and my situation would land on me like a weight. Every morning, it was as if I was kidnapped anew.

That particular morning I'd received a visit from Abu Nour, the most senior of my captors. As usual, the distinctive scent of his spicy cologne had announced his presence. As usual, I'd snapped my eyes to the ground to avoid seeing his face.

"We need to make a new video of you," he'd said, in his high-pitched, yet gravelly voice. "The last video showed you in good condition, and that made the government move slowly."

The British government had moved quickly, he'd said, after a video had shown hostage Margaret Hassan in bad condition. They wanted to push the US in the same way.

Margaret Hassan! An Irish aid worker married to an Iraqi, she'd been seized in Baghdad in October 2004, while on her way to work. Less than a month later, she was killed.

After the leader left, I sat and stared into the glowing metal of the propane heater, my knees drawn up under my red velveteen dishdasha. I was completely terrified.

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