Thursday, January 19, 2006

Jill Carroll

jill carroll-via al jazeera

This is the most popular link regarding kidnapped Christian Science Monitor Jill Carroll.

they mention "River", at Baghdad Burning, who knew her translator, and writes about him (here).

And, from The Christian Science Monitor's update page about Carroll, here:

"Ordinary Iraqis bear brunt of war" 15 April 2005: Mike says, "Jill was passionate about this story, one of the first she filed for us. For her, it was one of the most important to tell about the war in Iraq. And this particular piece led to an outpouring of financial contributions for Zeinab Yasseen and her family from Monitor readers. It was one of those pieces that made an immediate difference." "Old brutality among new Iraqi forces" 4 May 2005: "Long before revelations of secret prisons in Iraq's Ministry of Interior, Jill was reporting on allegations of increasing brutality within some the country's security forces," says Mike. "It was her ability to find trusting sources that put her on the leading edge of this important story."

I hope that she is going to be ok. The attention that this particular kidnapping has generated, as well as the request for a temporary blackout, has gotten me to wondering: if I was kidnapped (something I very much wish to avoid, of course!), I imagine I would want as much media attention as possible, as it acts to put pressure on institutions sponsoring journalists to pony up. The larger question of whether or not these institutions should pay a ransom wouldn't matter to me. If there was a ransom, as opposed to a political demand(as there is here, unfortunately), I'd want it paid, as would any of the noisy talking heads on tv who say that the parties in question should hang tough, if it were their butt.

Before I say this, I want to preface the following with my acknowledgement that the Monitor is one of the better mainstream American news media outlets. Nevertheless, if news organization X finds that one of their journalists has been kidnapped and tries to sit on the news for a time, can't it be reasonably construed that by reducing the visibility of that particular kidnapping, they are acting to reduce the likelihood that they'll be asked to pay a large ransom? I'm not willing to say that unequivocally, because there's another dynamic at play: sometimes criminal organizations kidnap westerners, then "sell" them to jihadist groups who want hostages for political aims. In that case, you would arguably want to do the opposite, at least initially, until you determine the nature of the kidnappers.

Of course, if the kidnappers are merely criminals in search of loot, I could see them selling a hostage to a jihadist group after the media company froze out the criminal group when they determined that all they wanted was money, and decided not to sweat it, and reacted lackadaisically. I'm not saying this dynamic is at play here. But writ large, I could see it as an explanation of why the criminal groups end up dealing with the jihadists.