CBSN

Journalist's Fate Unknown

hostage
al Jazeera
U.S. negotiators were working around the clock in an effort to secure the release of hostage American journalist Jill Carroll as a deadline set by militants threatening to kill her drew to an end Friday.

Muslims from Baghdad to Paris urged the militants to free the 28-year-old woman and end Iraq's wave of kidnappings. More than 240 foreigners have been taken captive and at least 39 killed since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reports that across the Muslim world,

Christopher Whitcomb, a terrorism expert and former member of the FBI's elite hostage rescue team, told CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer that he thinks the criticism by Islamic leaders is

.

"They want to make some kind of a statement," he said, "but the very people they want to make that statement to have called for her release."

Carroll was seized in a rough Baghdad neighborhood on Jan. 7 by gunmen who killed her translator. The Sunni Arab politician she had gone to interview urged her release and demanded that U.S. forces stop detaining Iraqi women.

"This act has hurt me and makes me sad because the journalist was trying to meet me when she was kidnapped," Adnan al-Dulaimi said Friday. "I call upon the kidnappers to immediately release this reporter who came here to cover Iraq's news and defend our rights."

A videotape sent by Carroll's kidnappers, a group calling itself "The Revenge Brigade," was aired Tuesday by the Arab TV station Al-Jazeera, which said her captors threatened to kill her unless U.S. forces freed all Iraqi women in military custody within 72 hours. No hour was specified.

There was no indication if any prisoners had been released. But the U.S. military confirmed Friday that it has nine Iraqi women in its detention facilities on suspicion of terror-related activities.

"We don't comment on whether Iraqi female or male detainees are in the process of being released," U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Barry Johnson said. "Of course we understand the cultural sensitivities in detaining females and pay particular attention to assessing their files."

Iraq's deputy justice minister, Busho Ibrahim Ali, visited the women Friday and said six of them — three from Baghdad, and one each from Mosul, Kirkuk and Tal Afar — would be freed next week.

"There's no link between the government's request for their release and the kidnapped American journalist," said Ali, who saw the detainees at a U.S. facility near Baghdad International Airport.

"But I hope that their release will lead to her (Carroll's) release."

Carroll grew up in Ann Arbor, Mich., and graduated from the University of Massachusetts. She worked as a reporting assistant for The Wall Street Journal before moving to Jordan and launching her freelance career in 2002, learning Arabic along the way. Most recently, she was working for The Christian Science Monitor.