jill carroll tells her story

Freelance journalist Jill Carroll grew up in Michigan, not too far from where I’m writing this. Her mom was one of Linette’s teachers. (I believe it was in high school, and not grade school, but Linette’s not here to ask.) When Jill was kidnapped by Sunni Muslim insurgents while on assignment for the “Christian Science Monitor” in Iraq, it really touched people here in a way that other events in this war hadn’t, or at least that’s how it seemed to me… As her abduction came soon after the kidnap and murder of a female foreign aid worker, I don’t think that many of us held out much hope. Fortunately, however, she was allowed to return home eight-two days after being taken. And, in today’s “Christian Science Monitor” she begins telling her story. (The whole piece will be released over eleven installments.) I’m tempted to reprint one of the more harrowing scenes here, like the one in which she witnesses the cold-blooded murder of her friend/interpreter, but instead I think I’ll share this clip concerning a surreal exchange shortly after the bloody ambush.

…Abu Rasha – a big man whom I would come to see as an organizer of my guards – lay down on one of the sofas. His wife and one of his children sat next to him on a chair.

Then Abu Rasha handed me the remote. “Whatever you want,” he said.
How do you channel surf with the mujahideen? I asked myself that question as I flipped from one show to another, trying to act casual. Politics was out. News was out. Anything that might show even a flash of skin was out.

Finally, I found Channel 1 from Dubai, and Oprah was on. OK, good, Oprah, I thought. No naked women, no whatever, she’s not in hijab, but it’s OK.

The show was about people who had had really bad things happen to them, and had survived, and had hope. One woman came on who had been a model in the ’70s and had breast cancer, and now she’s a famous photographer. It really had an impact on me. Oprah talked about how people get through these things, and I thought, well, this is sort of prophetic, maybe…

One of the most tangible things to come through in this first installment was the love and respect she had for her friend/interpreter, Alan Enwiya, with whom she had worked for almost three years. I can’t be certain, but it seems likely to me that it was due to Jill’s insistence that he was featured so prominently in this chapter, and that contact information was given for those readers inclined to help his wife and children financially as they start their new lives in the United States. I found that really touching.

(In related news, it was announced late last week that four men in Iraq had been arrested in connection Jill Carroll’s abduction.)

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One Comment

  1. Tony Buttons Esq.
    Posted August 15, 2006 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    The cynic in me thinks that perhaps she only mentioned Oprah because she knew it would lead to an invitation to be on the show, and perhaps a book club recommendation. I feel bad for thinking it, but it’s difficult to take anything at face value these days.

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