American Hostage Jill Carroll Released In Iraq

Journalist was held in captivity for more than three months

Less than 24 hours after her twin sister made an emotional appeal for her safe return, kidnapped American journalist Jill Carroll was released by her captors on Thursday (March 30) and is reported to be safe and unharmed in an undisclosed location in Iraq.

According to CNN, the 28-year-old freelance writer for the Christian Science Monitor newspaper who was kidnapped in January is in "safe hands" and has spoken to her parents. In an interview aired by CNN just hours after her release, a healthy-looking Carroll, wearing a head scarf, said her abductors never struck her or threatened her, that she has no idea where she was being held and that she's just glad to be free.

"I was treated well, but I don't know why I was kidnapped," Carroll said in the interview, according to The Associated Press. Though her life was twice threatened in videotapes released by her captors, Carroll said, "They never hit me. They never said they would hit me." Looking calm, Carroll said, "I'm just happy to be free. I want to be with my family."

"This is a wonderful day," David Cook, Washington bureau chief of the Monitor told the news network. Carroll called her father, Jim, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, shortly after her release to let him know she was safe.

Carroll, who has been stationed in the Middle East for three years, was taken on January 7 by a group calling itself the Swords of Righteousness Brigades, who threatened several times to kill the writer if United States did not release all women it has detained in Iraq.

Carroll was on her way to meet with Iraqi politician Adnan al-Dulaimi in Baghdad when she was taken. He did not show up, but as Carroll, her driver and an interpreter attempted to leave, their vehicle was stopped by insurgents, according to the Monitor. The driver escaped unharmed, but 32-year-old interpreter Allan Enwiyah was found dead nearby.

The deadlines set by the kidnappers passed several times without word of Carroll's fate. Then, in February, a video on Kuwait's Alrai Television aired in which a distressed looking Carroll said she was not being harmed, but urged the U.S. to meet her captors' demands quickly.

On Wednesday, Carroll's twin sister, Katie, pleaded for her sister's release in a videotaped message. "We would be grateful for any new sign that Jill is well," Katie Carroll said, adding that she hoped the captors had "come to know her; that they recognize what a wonderful person she is and realize they could show the world they are merciful to an innocent woman by returning her home to us."

Katie Carroll said that her sister, who has been praised for her reporting on and attention to the plight of the Iraqi people, especially the country's women, "has many Iraqi friends and respects their culture."