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Reporter's Family Appeals For Mercy

The family of an American reporter abducted in Baghdad appealed for mercy after her captors threatened to kill her if U.S. authorities don't release all Iraqi women in military custody by Friday.

Jill Carroll, 28, a freelancer for the Boston-based Christian Science Monitor, was kidnapped Jan. 7.

Since then, U.S. and Iraqi forces have mounted a huge operation to find her – to no avail even though two of the most powerful Muslim organizations worldwide are calling for her release, reports CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer.

On Tuesday, she was seen for the first time since her abduction on a silent, 20-second video clip released to Al-Jazeera television. Station officials said the video also included the threat to kill her if the Iraqi women weren't freed.

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

A U.S. military spokeswoman, Sgt. Stacy Simon, said eight Iraqi women are currently detained. She provided no further details.

Carroll's father, Jim, issued a statement later Tuesday in which he called his daughter "an innocent journalist."

"We respectfully ask that you please show her mercy and allow her to return home to her mother, sister and family," the family said.

Carroll understands the daily hardships being suffered by the Iraqis, her loved ones said.

"Jill is a friend and sister to many Iraqis and has been dedicated to bringing the truth of the Iraq war to the world," the statement said. "We appeal for the speedy and safe return of our beloved daughter and sister."

Carroll was abducted in one of Baghdad's most dangerous neighborhoods while being driven to meet a Sunni Arab politician, who failed to appear for the interview. Carroll's translator was killed, but her driver escaped.

David Cook, the Monitor's Washington bureau chief, said at a news conference Wednesday that Carroll's work has demonstrated she is respectful of Arab culture and people, and the newspaper has shown it treats different cultures and viewpoints fairly.

He did not answer directly whether the newspaper was involved in any negotiations for her release but told reporters: "The Monitor is availing itself of every option we can think of to secure her release but I don't think it would be helpful for Jill if I went beyond that.

"We have to be mindful of the fact that we have a colleague in captivity."

A day earlier, Gen. Hussein Kamal, Iraq's deputy interior minister in charge of domestic intelligence, said: "Efforts are continuing to find the American journalist. We cannot say more because of the sensitivity of the matter, but God willing the end will be positive."

A still photograph of Carroll from the videotape on Al-Jazeera's Web site carried a logo reading "The Revenge Brigade," a group that was not known from previous claims of responsibility of violence in Iraq.

Neighbors in Carroll's Michigan community are doing their best to support her family, Palmer reports.

"This is very troubling," one neighbor said. "We're going to stay strong and as optimistic as we can for Mary Beth and for Jill."

Carroll, who speaks some Arabic and wore a head covering while moving around Iraq, has been described by her editor as an aggressive reporter but not a reckless one.

"Jill spent three years learning Arabic because she cared so much about this story and covering it right," Ellen Knickmeyer, a reporter and friend of Carroll told CBS News The Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm. "If they talk to her they'll find she's a very respectful person ... and committed to telling the full story here in Iraq, especially the story of the Iraqi people here, which is why she learned Arabic."