U.S. Hostage In Tearful Plea

Al-Jazeera aired a new videotape Monday of kidnapped U.S. journalist Jill Carroll, showing her wearing an Islamic veil and weeping as she purportedly appealed for the release of female Iraqi prisoners.

The video is dated Saturday, two days after the U.S. military released five Iraqi women detainees. U.S. officials said the release had nothing to do with the kidnappers' demands.

Carroll's face is visible in the footage, encircled by a conservative Islamic veil that covers her hair, neck and shoulders. She is sobbing as she speaks to the camera, sitting in front of a yellow and black tapestry.

If the date is correct, it was the first sighting of Carroll since a Jan. 20 deadline her captors had originally set in an earlier video, threatening to kill her if women prisoners were not release. The deadline passed with no word on her fate amid widespread calls from Iraqi and Islamic leaders for her to be freed.

The U.S. military released five Iraqi women on Thursday and were believed to be holding several more. CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reports Carroll's plea in the video asks not only for the women in U.S. custody, but also those held by Iraq's interior ministry. It is believed seven women are left in U.S. custody but is unclear how many women were held by Iraqi authorities.

CBS Radio News reports that Carroll's father had planned to tape a statement today to be aired on Al Jazeera in which he was going to make another plea for his daughter's release, but because of the tape of Carroll which just aired, he will no longer tape a statement.

A hostage specialist team, including FBI agents, U.S. diplomats and the American military, has been working with Iraqi authorities to chase down leads and contact Iraqi political figures who may have connections to the kidnappers.

The al-Jazeera newsreader said Carroll appealed to the U.S. military and the Iraqi Interior Ministry to release all women in their prisons and that this "would help in winning her release."

At one point, Carroll's cracking voice can be heard from behind the newsreader's voice. CBS News reports that all that can be heard is Carroll saying, "…so that they can go home to their families."


Al-Jazeera did not report that any deadline was set in the video or that it included a threat to kill Carroll. The name of the group that has claimed responsiblity for Carroll's abduction, the Revenge Brigades, appeared in the top left corner of the video.

Armed men abducted the 28-year-old Carroll, a freelance reporter for the Christian Science Monitor, on Jan. 7 in Baghdad. On Jan. 17, Al-Jazeera aired a video released by the Revenge Brigades showing Carroll — her head bare, and her long straight brown hair parted in the middle. The video set the Jan. 20 deadline for women detainees to be freed or else Carroll would be killed.

That tape was also aired without sound. Al-Jazeera editors said their policy was to air such videos without audio because the voice was too upseting for viewers and that the newsreaders report the videos' content.

After the U.S. military freed the five Iraqi women last week, Iraqi officials expressed hope it might help win Carroll's release.

The reporter's parents have made repeated televised pleas for their daughter's release. A Washington-based American Islamic advocacy group flew to Baghdad to drum up support for Carroll, and Islamic leaders from Iraq to Paris have called for her freedom.

Palmer reports the Christian Science Monitor released a statement Monday saying anyone with a heart will be distressed that an innocent woman like Carroll would be treated in the manner shown in the latest video, and asked that she be returned to her family immediately.

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.

Ann Cooper with the Committee to Protect Journalists told CBS News correspondent Byron Pitts that Carroll kept a low profile in Iraq, and tried to blend in by traveling without much security. Cooper said there has been a debate about which is safer – to travel under the radar or to report with heavy security – but the recent attack in which ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff was injured shows that

Some 250 foreigners have been taken captive since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, and at least 39 have been killed.