your connection to The Boston Globe

Carroll voices anger at captors

Contends anti-US statements were given under threat

Reporter Jill Carroll yesterday renounced many of the statements she had made while in captivity in Iraq and called the people who kidnapped her ''criminals at best."

In a dramatic statement read by the editor of The Christian Science Monitor, the newspaper Carroll works for, Carroll said she lived through ''a horrific experience. I was, and remain, deeply angry with the people who did this."

She was released Thursday after being held in captivity for 82 days.

Carroll, who had been scheduled to arrive yesterday in Boston to meet her family, remained in Germany. She is now scheduled to arrive today to spend time with her family, who have traveled to Boston to meet her.

In contrast to the Islamic-style dress she wore in the videotapes issued while she was in captivity, yesterday she had on jeans, a bulky gray sweater, and a desert camouflage jacket. Officials at the US air base in Ramstein, Germany, said she was taken to guest quarters on the base. Carroll wrote her public statement at the air base.

It appeared to be intended to suppress a rising tide of criticism over some of the statements Carroll had made on tape while in captivity and immediately after she was told she would be released -- but before she was free.

''During my last night of captivity, my captors forced me to participate in a propaganda video," she said in the statement, read by Richard Bergenheim, editor of The Christian Science Monitor.

''They told me they would let me go if I cooperated. I was living in a threatening environment, under their control, and wanted to go home alive. I agreed."

Her statements in a recent video -- in which she praised her captors and spoke out against the American military presence in Iraq -- do not reflect her personal views, she said. Her kidnappers posted the video on an Islamic website.

Those statements had set off a torrent of criticism on talk radio and among bloggers on the Internet. Some suggested Carroll was suffering from Stockholm syndrome, where captives begin to identify with their kidnappers. Some contributors to blogs suggested her kidnapping was staged to provide propaganda for the insurgents, and called her no better than her captors. One blogger said Carroll should be charged with treason upon her return, and some alleged she was indicative of a media biased against the war.

Bergenheim described how Carroll had been coerced by three men with machine guns standing over her. Her interpreter was killed in the attack in which she was kidnapped on Jan. 7.

''The people who kidnapped me and murdered Alan Enwiya are criminals at best . . . ," Carroll said. ''I was, and remain, deeply angry with the people who did this."

Carroll said things she was forced to say ''are now being taken by some as an accurate reflection of my personal views. They are not."

Carroll said she gave a TV interview to the Iraqi Islamic Party shortly after her release. ''The party had promised me the interview would never be broadcast or aired on television, and they broke their word," she said. ''At any rate, fearing retribution from my captors, I did not speak freely. Out of fear I said I wasn't threatened. In fact, I was threatened many times."

Carroll also said that contrary to reports, she never refused to travel and cooperate with the US military and did not decline to discuss her captivity with US officials.

''I want to be judged as a journalist, not as a hostage," Carroll said. ''I remain as committed as ever to fairness and accuracy -- to discovering the truth -- and so I will not engage in polemics. But let me be clear: I abhor all who kidnap and murder civilians, and my captors are clearly guilty of both crimes."

Carroll asked for some time alone with her family, said Bergenheim, who said he does not know when she will speak to the press.

''As she writes, it is time for healing," Bergenheim said. ''Let the healing begin."

Carroll was freed and taken Thursday to an office of the Iraqi Islamic Party, a Sunni Arab group, and later escorted by the US military to the Green Zone, the fortified compound in Baghdad protecting the US Embassy and other facilities. She was said to be reluctant to go to the Green Zone because her kidnappers had told her it was infiltrated by insurgents.

After a day in seclusion, she left Balad Air Base near Baghdad yesterday on a US military transport plane, landing in Germany shortly before 2 a.m. EST. Carroll was seated in the cockpit of the plane, a C17 Globemaster that was also carrying soldiers wounded in Iraq.

The former hostage, a 28-year-old Michigan native, was smiling broadly. ''I'm so happy to be free and am looking forward to spending a lot of time with my family," Carroll said in the statement.

Carroll had freelanced for the Monitor about a year, Bergenheim said, but was hired one week after she was kidnapped. She was kidnapped in western Baghdad by gunmen who killed her Iraqi translator and confined her to a small soundproof room with frosted windows. Bergenheim emphasized yesterday that the paper, the Carroll family, and the US government did not pay any ransom for Carroll's release and that they do not know why she was released.

In a video posted on an Islamist website Friday, her abductors said they released Carroll because ''the American government met some of our demands by releasing some of our women from prison."

The kidnappers had demanded the release of all female detainees in Iraq by Feb. 26 or Carroll would be killed. US officials did release some female detainees at the time, but said it had nothing to do with the kidnappers' demands. On Thursday, US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said the United States is still holding four women.

The US Embassy in Baghdad says more than 40 foreigners are still being held hostage in Iraq.

Yvonne Abraham of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Material from the Associated Press was included.

More Jill Carroll coverage
Today (free)
Yesterday (free)
Past 30 days
Last 12 months
 Advanced search / Historic Archives