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The Jill Carroll Story – Part 1: The kidnapping

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As we walked to the car, Alan reminded me that we needed to call ahead to make sure our next interview was still on. He climbed into the front, and I handed him my phone from the back seat, my usual place. He began shouting into the phone, trying to make himself heard over Baghdad's overloaded, spotty cellphone network.

Adnan had begun to pull away, but suddenly a large blue truck with red and yellow trim backed out of a driveway in front of us, completely blocking the road. Several men were standing around it, motioning to help it back out.

But in an instant they turned, trained pistols on us, and briskly approached the car.

Adnan hit the brakes, and he and Alan put their hands up. It was a routine we had become familiar with in Baghdad, where private security details often brandish weapons to clear a path for their clients.

But unlike the previous times, the men didn't lower their weapons – and they kept advancing. The man closest to the car, a rotund person with salt-and-pepper stubble, had his gun aimed right through the windshield at Adnan.

My eyes were glued to him. I was confused about why he didn't lower his pistol. At the same time Adnan and Alan opened their doors and began to get out of the car.

The gunmen ran at us. A whisper exploded from me into a scream, "No, no, NO!" as I tried to get out. The door closed on my right ankle as someone shoved me back in, pushing so hard that the right lens of my glasses popped out. Through the crack in the door – before the intruder slammed it – I saw the last moment of Alan's life.

Adnan was gone. The rotund man was in the driver's seat now. Other men jumped in sandwiching me between them. We sped away, out onto the main road, then turned right.

"Jihad! Jihad! Jihad!" my abductors shouted, excited and joyful. "Jihad! Jihad!"

***

The taking of Jill Carroll off a Baghdad street on Jan. 7, 2006, created many hostages, of whom Jill herself was simply the central one, and the most endangered.

For her family and many friends and colleagues, normal life ended in the hours and days to come, as they heard what had happened. Henceforth, there would be worry, sometimes fear, and new routines that had one aim: free Jill.

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