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The Jill Carroll Story – Part 1: The kidnapping

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Their solace was action. The first thing her father Jim Carroll did that black Saturday morning was fire up his computer to see what he could learn, while Mary Beth, her mother, contacted family members. Sister Katie, who worked for an international development consulting company, began calling every number she knew in the Middle East.

In Boston before the sun rose, the Monitor assembled an ad hoc Team Jill – Marshall Ingwerson, the managing editor; David Scott, the foreign editor; and Amelia Newcomb, the deputy foreign editor. Richard Bergenheim was in Mexico taking his first vacation since becoming the paper's editor. He caught the next flight back.

For the next 82 days, they met every few hours, sometimes starting at 5:30 a.m. and often finishing the day at 10 or 11 p.m. with a conference call with Baghdad. Some of these editors had dealt before with the stress and emotion over the kidnapping – and even murder – of foreign correspondents filing for the paper. But none were truly prepared for what lay ahead.

Jill herself, isolated by Islamist insurgents, did not envision such rallies to her cause. In the weeks to come she sometimes would avoid thinking about her family, because it made her sad; when she did, she imagined them apprehensive, waiting for some sort of word from the US government. As for the Monitor, well, she was just a freelancer, and it wasn't a rich paper. She figured that following her kidnapping and the murder of her interpreter, its rotating Baghdad staff would have fled Iraq.

She was wrong.

P.G.

***

In the first minutes after my abduction, my captors peppered me with questions in Arabic. I played dumb, fearful they would think I understood too much and kill me.

They quickly drove Adnan's Toyota onto the highways of western Baghdad and surrounding farmlands, going in circles, apparently to kill time. Their "success" was granted by God, they believed, and they issued thanks repeatedly. "Allah Akbar" they said, "God is greatest."

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