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Captors threaten to kill U.S. journalist

Group calls for release of female Iraqi prisoners within 72 hours

Journalist Jill Carroll has been working in Iraq since October 2003.


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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- An American journalist's kidnappers threatened to kill her unless the United States releases all female Iraqi prisoners within 72 hours, the Arabic-language TV network Al-Jazeera said after it aired a video showing her Tuesday.

Al-Jazeera released no details on how it obtained the video, which it said is from her kidnappers.

On its English-language Web site, the Qatar-based network said the abductors identified themselves as members of a previously unknown armed group called the "Brigades of Vengeance." (Watch first images of American hostage -- 1:35)

No one had previously claimed responsibility for the abduction.

Journalist Jill Carroll, 28, a freelance writer on assignment for the Christian Science Monitor, was kidnapped January 7 in western Baghdad. Her Iraqi interpreter was killed, but her Iraqi driver escaped unharmed.

In the video, Carroll appears tired and speaks briefly, but no sound is heard. She is shown in front of a white background, her long, dark hair parted in the middle and pulled behind her ears.

Al-Jazeera repeated Tuesday that it opposes and condemns all forms of violence against journalists, and asked that Carroll be let go. The U.S. State Department also has asked that she and other hostages be released unharmed.

She has been reporting from the Middle East for three years.

"Jill is an innocent journalist, and we respectfully ask that you please show her mercy and allow her to return home to her mother, sister and family," Carroll's family said in a statement.

"Jill is a kind person whose love for Iraq and the Iraqi people are evident in her articles. She has been welcomed into the homes of many Iraqis and shown every courtesy.

"From that experience, she understands the hardships and suffering that the Iraqi people face every day. Jill is a friend and sister to many Iraqis, and has been dedicated to bringing the truth of the Iraq war to the world.

"We appeal for the speedy and safe return of our beloved daughter and sister," said the statement, which was signed by her parents, Jim and Mary Beth, and her twin sister, Katie Carroll.

The Monitor's editor, Richard Bergenheim, also pleaded for her release.

"Jill Carroll's colleagues at The Christian Science Monitor and journalists around the world appeal to her captors to release her immediately and without harm. They have seized an innocent person who is a great admirer of the Iraqi people," Bergenheim said in a written statement.

"She is a professional journalist whose only goal has been to report truthfully about Iraq and to promote understanding. As an intelligent, dedicated, open-minded reporter, she has earned the respect of her Arab and Western peers."

The Council on American-Islamic Relations also called for Carroll's release Tuesday.

"Journalists must be free to report on conflicts worldwide without fear of being targeted by combatants," the council said in a written statement. "We call for the immediate and unconditional release of Jill Carroll and for the release of all hostages held in Iraq.

"No cause can be served by harming those who only seek to convey the human suffering caused by war."

The council has 31 chapters and offices nationwide and in Canada. The group says its mission is to improve the understanding of Islam, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims and build coalitions that promote justice and understanding.

'Perfect ambush'

Carroll's driver described the kidnapping in an article published in the nonreligious newspaper -- based in Boston, Massachusetts -- a few days after the kidnapping: "I saw a group of people coming as if they had come from the sky."

"One guy attracted my attention. He jumped in front of me screaming, 'Stop! Stop! Stop!' with his left hand up and a pistol in his right hand."

The driver said in the report that one of the kidnappers pulled him from the car, then drove off with it. The driver asked not to be identified.

The interpreter, Allan Enwiyah, 32, was found dead nearby, shot twice in the head, the newspaper said, citing law enforcement officials. The incident took place within 300 yards of the office of Adnan al-Dulaimi, a Sunni politician whom Carroll had planned to interview that morning, the article said.

But al-Dulaimi was not there and, after 25 minutes, Carroll and her interpreter attempted to drive off, but their red Toyota Cressida was halted, the article said, citing the driver.

"It was very obvious this was by design," the driver said. "The whole operation took no more than a quarter of a minute. It was very highly organized. It was a setup, a perfect ambush."

Carroll has been working in Iraq since October 2003. While there, she has worked for The Boston Globe, The Chronicle in San Francisco, California, and the Italian wire service ANSA.

She also has written for and the American Journalism Review, and contributed to stories for The Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, and USA Today.

Carroll grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and has been an avid swimmer, even competing in one triathlon. She began her journalism career at the University of Massachusetts, where she graduated with a journalism degree in 1999.

Carroll is among 31 journalists kidnapped in Iraq since the beginning of the war, according to Reporters Sans Frontieres, an advocacy group based in Paris, France.

The Committee to Protect Journalists put the number of journalists kidnapped in Iraq since April 2004 at 36. Six have been killed, it said.

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