Protests in Baghdad Over Raid Linked to Kidnapping

By: E&P Staff

Events surrounding the kidnapping of Jill Carroll, the American freelancer reporting for the Christian Science Monitor, took a troubling turn on Tuesday when several hundred Sunni Arabs protested the raid on a Baghdad mosque Saturday shortly after the abduction.

The raid, according to wire service accounts, was carried out by U.S. and Iraqi soldiers looking for Carroll. The Monitor also reported this on its Web site.

“The attack on the Umm al-Qura mosque is an attack on Muslims and Islam,” read one of the banners at the protest, according to Agence France-Press (AFP).

The United Nations also criticized the U.S. operation, saying it could hinder efforts to build a political consensus.

The mosque is in the Adel neighborhood, where Ms. Carroll was seized.

The U.S. military told Agence France Presse that the raid was linked to the hunt for Carroll. Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, a U.S. military spokesman, said the raid was ordered “as a direct result of a tip by an Iraqi civilian that activities related to the kidnapping were being carried out inside the mosque.”

Carroll was taken by gunmen on Saturday after visiting the office of a prominent Sunni politician in the neighborhood. Her Iraqi interpreter, Allan Enwiyah, was fatally shot. There was a news blackout on the kidnapping for nearly two full days in the U.S., though it was reported abroad.

“Both Iraqi and coalition forces raided the mosque in the early morning hours in order to minimize the impact on worshipers and the surrounding neighborhood,” Johnson told AFP Tuesday. Six people were detained for questioning, he added.

The Association of Muslim Scholars, which is based at the mosque, confirmed that one of its members, Yunis Aikali, and five mosque guards were arrested in the raid. The Association accused U.S. soldiers of desecrating the mosque and carrying away files containing the names of members.

Reuters reporters saw shotgun shells and explosive charges used to blow out door locks lying on the ground following the predawn raid on the Umm al-Qora mosque complex on Sunday. Many office doors showed signs of forced entry, papers were strewn on the floor, and windows were smashed.

Three days after the raid, however, the Monitor reported: “At press time, there was no new information about who might be holding Carroll. ‘We continue to do everything we can to secure Jill’s release,’ said Monitor Editor Richard Bergenheim.”

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