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April 12, 2006
Did Carroll Get Ransomed?

ABC News will air an interview with Sheikh Sattam al-Gaood, a crony of Saddam Hussein and a supporter of the native insurgency in Iraq, who claims to have disbursed a ransom paid for the release of reporter Jill Carroll from terrorists:

The man behind Jill Carroll's release tells ABC News in an exclusive interview that kidnapping the American journalist was a mistake. Sheikh Sattam al-Gaood reveals what it took to free her — and why he supports the insurgency.

Al-Gaood was one of three people specifically thanked by Carroll's family after her release. He was once one of Saddam Hussein's closest business associates, and now says he is a proud leader of the Iraqi insurgency.

"They are defending their country," he said in an interview at his summer house outside Amman, Jordan. "They are an honest resistance. And sometimes they do mistakes."

The "mistake", as al-Gaood puts it, was kidnapping Carroll at all. According to the interview, the kidnappers wanted eight million dollars for Carroll's release, but that did not meet with al-Gaood's approval. Instead, he claims to have received a lesser but very significant amount and to have distributed it to "widows and orphans" connected with the native insurgency. ABC's report gives no indication who paid this ransom, although it includes an official denial from the Christian Science Monitor about paying anything for her release.

If this is true, it once again will encourage kidnappers in Iraq to capture Westerners for extortion -- if not actions from our government, then for cash from the organizations that sponsor reporters like Carroll. It further endangers journalists, aid workers, and rebuilding specialists. The US should determine exactly what happened to free Carroll and wo got the money, if any.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 12, 2006 8:00 PM

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