A reporter who was held hostage in Iraq for 82 days is telling her story. Jill Carroll had closer contact with Iraqi insurgents than any American who has lived to talk about the experience.
Freelance reporter Jill Carroll was working for the U.S. newspaper The Christian Science Monitor. She was kidnapped January 7 in Baghdad by a group calling itself the Revenge Brigade. The captors killed her Iraqi translator, Alan Enwiya.
"I was looking out at the crack of the door [and it] was opening. I saw Alan was there and I saw them kill Alan," she recalls.
Carroll says moments later one of her kidnappers called home to say he was bringing Carroll to meet his family. "And then he got off the phone and said, 'Oh, my mother and my sister and my wife say they love you so much. They are so happy that you are coming.' "
Carroll believes the insurgents moved her among at least six different houses during her 82 days in captivity. She says she feared for her life every day.
Her captors wanted to teach her the Koran, so Carroll memorized passages as they read the Koran to her for hours at a time. Months before the terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed in Iraq, the kidnappers told her they were inspired by Zarqawi and the idea of global jihad.
She says family members within the insurgency collaborated closely, including a five-year-old boy whose parents helped guard Carroll.
"A little boy, a little voice, I didn't know he was even there,” she said. “He goes, 'I'm a Mujah head, I'm a Mujah head,' which means, ‘I'm a holy warrior.’ He's five years old. I got to know this kid pretty well. He was really cute."
Carroll says she was stunned to learn that the pregnant wife of one of her kidnappers wanted to become a suicide bomber. "We were in the kitchen, her husband came in, that guy, you know, and he says 'Oh, you know, Um Ali, she wants to be a suicide bomber.' Um Ali's like, 'Oh yes, I do.' Obviously blushing because he was praising her, and she was really proud of it," said Carroll.
The U.S. military has arrested four Iraqi men suspected of being involved in Carroll's kidnapping. But Carroll believes families of the men will continue fighting in the insurgency.
"That wife is going to raise their kids and that son to fight and kill. That little boy is going to be on the street the next day looking for a patrol to come by and then giving the signal for someone to set off an IED. [improvised explosive device]. The whole family is an operation. What are you going to do? Arrest all of them? Kill all of them?"
On March 30, the insurgents gave Carroll new clothes and put her in a car. She believed they were going to kill her, until one of the kidnappers offered her money.
"He started taking money out of his wallet and started putting hundred dollar bills in my hand and saying, 'This $100 bill is because we are sorry for your trouble, and this one is for your computer, and this one is for your father, and tell him we're sorry, and this one is for your mother, and tell her we're sorry."
Carroll was released, but says she still feels responsible for the death of Alan Enwiya, her friend and translator.