Marines: Green door unravels Jill Carroll's kidnap trail
Two missing after helicopter crash; violence claims 34 lives
Wednesday, August 9, 2006; Posted: 1:08 p.m. EDT (17:08 GMT)
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- One glance at an unusual door to a house west of Falluja launched U.S. troops on a hunt that led to the capture of four men suspected of kidnapping Jill Carroll, the U.S. military said on Wednesday.
A Marine lieutenant thought he recognized a small structure on the door and the gate from intelligence reports about the U.S. journalist's 82-day abduction, spokesman Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said.
"Troops on the ground, young Marines and sailors, paid attention to what may have been considered minor details at the time," he told a news conference in Baghdad.
The homeowner let the Marine and his team from the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force into the building where they found a specific bookcase that led them to believe they had found where Carroll was held immediately before she was freed, Caldwell said. (Watch video of the house where Jill Carroll was allegedly held -- 2:04)
"The young Marine ... continued to follow up on what he remembered from the reports and [was] able to specifically identify some features associated with that ...
"He determined that, in fact, he had probably found the house where kidnap victims may have been held, specifically in this case, Jill Carroll."
Marines arrested the homeowner in al-Habbaniya beginning a chain of events that took them to three more houses that may have been used as holding cells.
In one of the houses, Marines disarmed booby traps before rescuing two other hostages, Caldwell said.
They also saw more characteristics of the home that suggested Carroll had been held there.
Four suspected kidnappers were detained in the operations that spread from Falluja to Baghdad, Caldwell said.
Two others were also detained but were not thought connected to Carroll and were released.
The names of those arrested -- all at least a month ago -- are being withheld while officials decide whether they should be prosecuted.
"The hunt continues for anybody and anyone else that was involved not only in these kidnappings but those who ... spread terror in the lives of everyday Iraqi citizens," Caldwell added.
"What's important to remember is that this is just one small part of the ordeal of a number of kidnap victims."
Carroll was working as a freelancer for The Christian Science Monitor when she was kidnapped in a Sunni neighborhood of Baghdad on January 7. She appeared in insurgent videos on Arabic-language news networks and was threatened with death until her release on March 30.
The Boston-based newspaper's editor Richard Bergenheim said Carroll and her colleagues "are very grateful" for the government's efforts to secure her freedom.
"Like reporters everywhere, we are reassured to hear that several of those who held Jill have been apprehended," his statement read.
"The daily threat of kidnapping in Iraq remains acute for all. Everything possible needs to be done to relieve Iraqis and others of this scourge."
Jill Carroll's father, Jim, told CNN that the family is "happy to hear the news" and that Jill "is doing well, in Boston, working for the Christian Science Monitor and recuperating."
The newspaper will carry her story of the ordeal next week.
Two missing after helicopter crash
Two crew members are missing after a U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter went down in Anbar province in Iraq on Tuesday, the U.S. military said.
The four remaining crew members have been found, along with the aircraft, and were in stable condition.
The UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter from 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing was on an "area familiarization flight" when it crashed, the U.S. military said Wednesday.
"We are using all the resources available to find our missing comrades," said Marine spokesman Maj. Riccoh Player.
The incident is not believed to be the result of an "enemy action," the military said.
News of the crash coincided with a new poll showing 60 percent of Americans oppose the war in Iraq and a majority of those surveyed expressing support for a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops. (Details)
Violence riddles Iraq
A Katyusha rocket attack on a residential building in Baquba killed a woman and a child and wounded 16 others Tuesday night, a Diyala Joint Coordination Center official said. The attack also damaged a Shiite mosque and shops.
Earlier in the day, two people were killed in drive-by shootings in Baquba.
The mixed Sunni and Shiite city, about 40 miles north of Baghdad, has endured many attacks since the insurgency began more than three years ago.
The killings brought to at least 34 the number of dead across Iraq by bombings or shootings Tuesday. Most of the incidents occurred in volatile Baghdad, where police found 15 bullet-riddled corpses, most of them showing signs of torture. The style of slayings has become a signature of Sunni-Shiite sectarian vendetta killings. (Full story)