By: Joe Strupp
Four months after being released from an 82-day kidnapping ordeal in Iraq, Christian Science Monitor Reporter Jill Carroll will tell the story of her abduction and detention in an 11-part series set to run in the newspaper beginning Aug. 14.
“I would describe it as a comprehensive and compelling report on Jill’s 82 days in captivity and the lessons learned by her,” said Dave Cook, the Monitor’s Washington, D.C. bureau chief who has acted as a spokesman for Carroll. “She has a phenomenal memory, it is a detail-rich story.”
But don’t look for the 28-year-old journalist to do the typical follow-up interviews on radio, television or in print that often proceed such high-profile ordeals. Carroll says the series will be her only offering of the story, at least for now.
“I don’t want to be rich. I don’t want to be famous. I just want to be a foreign correspondent,” Carroll said in a statement to E&P Monday.
Cook added that “reliving the story was painful for Jill and she did it with reluctance. She is devastated by the death of her translator, Alan Enwiya [who died during her abduction]. She is concerned about the upheaval her kidnapping caused for her driver, Adnan. And she is worried about retribution aimed at her colleagues in Baghdad, her family, and herself.”
The multi-part report also will be available on the Monitor Web site, along with clips from a lengthy interview with Carroll conducted by Monitor D.C. reporter Peter Grier. “Peter worked with Jill closely on this series, interviewed her in Boston and those clips will be embedded in the story on the Web,” Cook said.
A promotional ad for the series on the Monitor web site titled it “Hostage: The Jill Carroll Story” and described it as “featuring Jill’s own words about her abduction and captivity, along with video clips as she describes her long ordeal.”
The Web promotion also says that she had been moved nine times during her captivity and had been forced by her lead captor, described as “head of an insurgent council organized by the notorious Abu Musab al Zarqawi,” to ‘interview’ him for hours on end.” It added that, “in her last hours of captivity he told her: ‘Forget about the council. Everything is forbidden. You must forget it all.’ She forgot nothing.”
The Christian Science Monitor News Service, which has 162 clients that serve some 14 million readers, is offering the series to both regular customers and others who wish to purchase it separately, said Cook.
When word of the story’s completion was reported in June by E&P, World Editor Dave Scott described it at the time as “long and multi-part” and said there were concerns about how much to reveal. “She is wrestling with ‘how much do you say about a terrorist organization and what you know?'” Scott told E&P at the time. He said concerns had arisen about whether specific information about her captors might prompt retaliation. “Retaliation against other journalists, Monitor correspondents, and that kind of thing.”
Carroll was released in Baghdad on March 30 after being held captive for nearly three months. A freelancer at the time, she was kidnapped on Jan. 7. Her kidnapping drew worldwide attention as numerous human rights and journalism groups urged her release.
Her abductors, who had demanded the release of all Iraqi women prisoners several times, dropped her off at a political party office with no explanation. Since her release, Carroll has maintained a low profile, declining requests for interviews, and even avoiding invitations to appear for awards and other accolades.
Carroll, who had worked for months in Iraq as a Monitor freelancer, had been made a staff employee of the paper shortly after her abduction. No information has been revealed about what her future assignment may be beyond the personal story.
“She is currently a staff person in the Boston newsroom,” said Cook. “That is all we want to say at the moment.”
Scott said her kidnapping had prompted the paper to institute a new policy against using freelancers in Baghdad, except in embedding situations. “It is a matter of the security issue,” he said in June.