Jill Carroll, a 28-year-old freelancer for The Christian Science Monitor, was seized in Baghdad's predominantly Sunni Arab al-Adel neighborhood. Police said she went there to see a Sunni Arab politician.
Her driver, who survived the attack, said after Carroll and her party had waited 25 minutes for the politician to show up for the interview, they gave up and were leaving when their car was stopped.
"It was very obvious this was by design," the driver, who asked not to be identified, told the Monitor. "The whole operation took no more than a quarter of a minute. It was very highly organized. It was a setup, a perfect ambush."
The driver was pulled from the car — "They didn't give me any time to even put the car in neutral — and the kidnappers drove off with Carroll and her interpreter. His body was later found, shot twice in the head.
"You are a target as a citizen, you are a target, you will die at any moment. There is no security, enough security, for ourselves, for our families," the interpreter, Alan Ghazi, a former record shop owner, told CBS News about a year ago.
Carroll had just been laid off from a newspaper job and decided it was time to fulfill her dream of going to the Middle East to cover a war. Her proud sister has been keeping track of her travels in a blog.
The kidnapping came at the end of a very busy week for reporters in Iraq, reports CBS News correspondent Kelly Cobiella. Insurgent violence was spiraling out of control, and putting a strain on the political process. That was the focus of Carroll's last report, though it's not clear if her stories were what made her a target.
"All I ever wanted to be was a foreign correspondent," Carroll wrote last year in the American Journalism Review. "It seemed the right time to try to make it happen."
In the February/March issue of AJR, Carroll wrote that she moved to Jordan in late 2002, six months before the war started, "to learn as much about the region as possible before the fighting began."
"There was bound to be plenty of parachute journalism once the war started, and I didn't want to be a part of that," she wrote.
Carroll was described by her editor as an aggressive reporter but not a reckless one.
"I've never had any indication that she's reckless," said Marshall Ingwerson, managing editor for Boston-based Monitor.