First Published: 2006-03-31

Carroll: Iraqi mujahideen will win in the end

Freed US hostage says mujahideen are more clever and better than all the people US army has in Iraq.


Middle East Online

By Jay Deshmukh - BAGHDAD

Freed US hostage praises Iraqi insurgents

US authorities guarded freed hostage Jill Carroll in Iraq on Friday after insurgents released her from nearly three months of captivity and posted a video on the Internet showing her praising them.

The Americans refused to say when the 28-year-old freelance journalist would go home to the United States.

Meanwhile, Iraqi leaders on Friday announced they were to meet later in the day to discuss forming a new government, ending a two-day suspension in the three-month-old struggle to reach agreement.

In a late Thursday video footage, whose authenticity could not be verified, Carroll in an interview with her kidnappers before her release was seen praising Iraq's insurgents and even predicted their victory over the coalition forces.

"I think the mujahideen are very smart and even with all the technology and all the people that the American army has here, they still are better at knowing how to live and work here, more clever," Carroll said in answer to a question posed by one of her kidnappers.

Asked what she meant, Carroll, who was snatched from a Baghdad street on January 7, answered: "It makes very clear that the mujahideen are the ones that will win in the end."

The video showed her dressed in the same baggy clothes she was seen wearing after her release.

The interviewer then asked Carroll if she had a message for US President George W. Bush.

She smiled before saying: "He needs to stop this war. He knows this war is wrong ... He needs to finally admit that to the American people and make the troops go home."

Carroll then said she felt guilty being set free while many women remained imprisoned at Baghdad's US-run Abu Ghraib prison.

"It shows the difference between the mujahedeen and the Americans, it shows the mujahedeen are good people fighting an honourable fight while the Americans are here as an occupying force treating the people in a very bad way," she said.

On Thursday afternoon, Carroll, who worked mainly for the Boston-based Christian Science Monitor, was dropped off near the office of the Iraqi Islamic Party.

"I am happy to be free. I just want to be with my family quickly," a composed Carroll, wearing a headscarf, told Baghdad Television, run by the Islamic Party.

US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad told reporters that "no US person had made arrangement with kidnappers" for her release. He added that none of the kidnappers was in custody yet.

Also on Thursday, Syrian journalist Ziad al-Monjed and his Iraqi companion Walid al-Zoubaidi, who had been kidnapped on Tuesday west of Baghdad, were freed for a 50,000 dollar ransom, a security source said.

On the political front, Iraqi parliamentarians were set to meet at the president's house on Friday.

"We have been called by the president's office for a meeting today," said Kurdish parliamentarian Mahmud Othman.

Sunni parliamentarian Saleh al-Mutlak also confirmed that the president's office had called for a meeting at 3 pm (1200 GMT).

Iraqi leaders had suspended the talks since Wednesday after a dispute between the dominant Shiites and the minority Sunnis over who should oversee the country's security portfolio.

Efforts to form a government have dragged on after the December general election in arguments over cabinet posts and rejection by the Kurds and Sunnis of incumbent Shiite Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari's candidacy as the next premier.

"There are still big decisions to be made," said Robert Ford, political secretary at the US embassy in Iraq.

"They still have to finalise the choice of prime minister, his deputies, president and his deputies as well as cabinet ministers."

On Thursday, Jaafari expressed confidence that the government would be formed in April "despite the delays in political talks."

Jaafari also warned the United States to stop meddling in the political process in an interview with The New York Times.

Jaafari appeared to be referring to concerns that US officials were actively lobbying to replace him with a candidate who might be able to draw more support from Kurdish and Sunni leaders, who are dissatisfied with Jaafari's tenur


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