Chorus Of Pleas For Reporter's Release

Muslim leaders and her pleading mother appealed Thursday for the release of kidnapped American journalist Jill Carroll as Iraqi officials said six detained Iraqi women were due for release by the U.S. military, a condition set by the hostage-takers who are threatening to kill their captive.

But the White House said no prisoner release appeared imminent and a major Sunni Arab clerical group said it could do little to help win Carroll's freedom because it did not know who was holding her.

The kidnappers of 28-year-old Carroll, identified as the previously unknown "Revenge Brigade," have given until Friday evening for all Iraqi female detainees to be freed or they would execute her. However, Iraqi kidnap groups often set such deadlines only to ignore them and continue holding captives.

New images showing Carroll surrounded by three armed and masked gunmen were aired Thursday by the Arab TV station Al-Jazeera. The 20 seconds of silent footage were from a tape of which excerpts were broadcast Tuesday with the 72-hour deadline.

gave her hope that her daughter is alive but also have "shaken us about her fate."

"I, her father and her sister are appealing directly to her captors to release this young woman who has worked so hard to show the sufferings of Iraqis to the world," Mary Beth Carroll told CNN's "American Morning."

A White House official told CBS News that Carroll's plight is dire and underlined that the U.S. never negotiates with terrorists.

But Iraq's deputy justice minister, Busho Ibrahim Ali, said six of the eight Iraqi women in custody are expected to be released next week, but he stressed that any release would "not be part of any swap with any kidnappers."

"I insisted that the Americans should bring (the women's) files and release them and they will be freed next week along with other detainees," Ali told Associated Press Television News. He did not elaborate on who the other detainees were, but said the recommendation to free the women was made Monday.

Speculation that the Iraqi women may soon be freed raised hopes for the release of Carroll, a freelance journalist who was working for the Christian Science Monitor when she was seized Jan. 7 in western Baghdad. Her translator was killed.

But Carroll's mother told CNN that they had discussed the eventuality of being kidnapped, and the Carroll knew the risks.

"I feel also after being in Baghdad for two years that she knew what she was doing," Mary Beth Carroll said. "She knew what the dangers were. She knew what the risks were. And she chose to accept those because what she was doing to communicate to the world the sufferings of the Iaqi people was important."

U.S. military officials repeatedly refused Thursday to confirm whether any release was imminent. In Washington, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said the Bush administration was working hard to secure Carroll's freedom but said no Iraqi detainees were expected to be released soon, citing information from the U.S. Department of Defense.

"Any time you have an American held hostage, wherever they are, they are a priority for the administration," McClellan said Thursday. "And we want to see her safe return. As I indicated yesterday, too, I don't think it's really helpful to go beyond that at this point."


Carroll grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and received a journalism undergraduate degree in 1999 from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She worked as a reporting assistant for The Wall Street Journal before moving to Jordan and launching her freelance career in 2002, learning Arabic on the way.

CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reports across the Muslim world,

"Nothing, no cause justifies the kidnapping of an innocent person whose job is to report the facts and tell the world about what is happening in Iraq," Ayman Safdi, former editor of the Jordan Times newspaper which gave Carroll her first job in the region, told CBS News. "What Iraq needs is more people like Jill."

Her newspaper's Washington bureau chief, David Cook, also urged the captors to contact them to discuss her release. Cook would not say specifically if the newspaper would pay ransom.

"I think our policy would be that we would welcome contact from the captors," Cook told NBC. "Either the family or the Monitor would be eager to talk to the captors."

Calls for Carroll's freedom were also made by Muslim leaders in Iraq plus a team of U.S.-based Islamic advocates traveling to the Middle East to seek her release.

The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations flew to the Jordanian capital, Amman, on Thursday and was planning to hold a news conference Friday in Baghdad. The group said it hopes to reach Arab television audiences and persuade Carroll's captors to release her.

The Bloomfield Hills-based Islamic Shura Council of Michigan, which represents about 20 Muslim groups in the state, told the Detroit Free Press that Carroll's kidnapping would not help the Iraqi cause.

In Iraq, leaders of three prominent Sunni Muslim groups demanded Carroll's release. Iraq's insurgency draws the bulk of its support from Iraq's once dominant Sunni Arab community, which fell from grace once its Sunni benefactor, Saddam, was toppled.

"We condemn the abduction of journalists who are a means to convey the truth to the people," said Muthana Harith al-Dhari, spokesman for the Association of Muslim Scholars, which is believed to have ties to some Sunni insurgent groups.

However, al-Dhari, who is considered a hard-liner in the association, said there was little that his group could do because it did not know who was holding her. French journalist and former hostage Florence Aubenas, who was released in June after being held hostage in Iraq for 157 days, also called on Carroll's hostage-takers to release her.

"She came to this country to do her job as a journalist and not anything else," Aubenas told Al-Jazeera.

Carroll's mother said her daughter even discussed with her family the possibility of being kidnapped in Iraq, a country where more than 240 foreigners have been kidnapped and at least 39 killed since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

"Those things have been said. And she knows that we love her and support her," Mary Beth Carroll said. "She knows that we can be strong for her."

Roy Hallums, an American contractor who was held hostage last year in Iraq for 10 months said

"There is a chance," he told CBS News correspondent Lara Logan. "I'm here. I'm proof that sometimes it happens."