On Jill Caroll & Mahmoud Saidat

Well the deadline has just passed and many people are holding their breaths to see what will happen to Jill Carroll. I’ve been holding my breath for several weeks now since a group kidnapped a Jordanian driver in December demanding to exchange him for the failed terrorist bomber of November 9th attacks on Amman.

It’s so strange how these are two different people, with two different lives, nationalities, genders, families, ethnicities, religions, and occupations, but they are now facing the same realities. The demands are also different. The group who took Carroll is demanding that America releases all the women prisoners in Iraq. The group that took Mahmoud is demanding that a terrorist who tried to kill Jordanians be released.

But more importantly the reactions to their kidnappings have been quite different.

I don’t want to go into some in depth analysis. I don’t agree with these kidnappings to begin with; they conflict with the teachings of my religion and are just plain inhumane. But this is an example of human life and its value; look at this objectively from an alien hovering above the Earth point of view.

With Carroll you’ve had this out-pouring reaction from international press, world wide politicians, newspapers, blogs, Muslim organizations, even Sunni Iraqi leaders. Even during the Friday prayer today our Imam had a little prayer for her release.

With Mahmoud Saidat, we’ll he made some brief apperances on the CNN and BBC websites for a few days. He made it onto a few blogs for a few days. A few newspapers wrote about him a few times. AlJazeera showed his plea for his life a few times too.

It isn’t the press reaction which I find interesting, it’s obviously expected that a white American female journalist will obviously garner more press attention than a Jordanian driver. What I find interesting really is the people’s reaction, the human reaction.

One is an American Journalist and one is a Jordanian Driver. Both were in Iraq to carry out their duties; the former as a journalist and the latter serving his country.

While I’m really proud at the strong reactions towards freeing Carroll, specifically and especially from the Muslim community, I feel sad for Mahmoud’s wife and kids who have no backup.

I wish a massive rally of Jordanians flooded the streets of Amman to protest for his release. This is me daydreaming of course, but after November 9th I was injected with a dose of optimism that Jordanians would not hesitate to speak up against terror whether it affected one of their citizens or 63.

Perhaps I was mistaken. Perhaps we let him down.

I don’t blame anyone really, although our governments have this tendency to make their citizens feel so devalued compared to their western counter parts, like we are worthless, despite fake slogans of the citizen being the most valuable asset. Hey, maybe someone did try and get a permit to have a massive protest but was turned down by the Ministry. But I doubt it.

Strange enough I think Carroll will probably be released but Mahmoud is a tough call. Gender plays a big role here. The fact that Carroll is a woman is basically her lifeline. The fact that she’s a journalist is also another lifeline. The fact that Mahmoud is both a man and works for the Jordanian government, are, well, the opposite of lifeline.

Another thing that’s interesting to note is the groups who are now doing this. Most, if not all, have been either AlQueda in Iraq, headed up by Zarqawi, or are rouge cells (from the start). Some demands have been about money, but mainly political. What is interesting is that with both these kidnappings you have strange names. Carroll’s kidnappers are the Revenge Brigade and Mahmoud’s are the Hawks Brigade. Gone are the Islamic names that we’ve grown accustomed to. What is mind boggling to me is that even if these groups are Islamic in nature, even if they are extremists, wouldn’t they know they cannot kidnap non-combatants in a war? Especially women, children and people of religion? Did they skip over that part in Zarqawi 101? I’ve read some reports of freed hostages who say the women were treated much better than the men, they were allowed to move freely, watch TV and listen to radio and read the newspaper, even the food was better. This relates to Islamic teachings where women are supposed to be treated better, so it does appear that these people are religious and were in class for that lecture. But this only relates to prisoners of war, after a war, not during a war. The same sort of POWs America is keeping in Iraqi prisons as we speak.

So we can draw two conclusions: either these are extremist Islamic militants who never saw the light of a 4th grade education, or they are just disguised under the veneer of being religiously affiliated.

Either way this has become another by-product of America’s war on Iraq. The country in a matter of almost 3 years since the war began has become the worst place for Journalists to operate in. More have died there than in the whole Vietnam war.

All that being said, may they all come back home soon and safely God willing.


  • “wouldnâ??t they know they cannot kidnap non-combatants in a war? Especially women, children and people of religion? Did they skip over that part in Zarqawi 101?”

    You know that they can lie to themselves and justify what they’re doing, heck they can even preach such inhumane practices as Islamic and the whole world will believe the criminals and condemn Islam, but most importantly, they will believe their own lies, that’s whats more dangerous. Come to think of it, you’re right, they don’t seem to have passed grade 1.

    My heart and prayers go to both of them, but I can’t help but feel more with the Jordanian driver. He has only Allah to rely on now. Nas, Jordanians did not want the government to negotiate with the terrorists, but were they right in that? I bet the government breathed an air of releif knowing that Jordanians are either apathetic or against the exchange. Those who don’t care, don’t care and those who are not with the exchange did not care enough to demand the government negotiate with his kidnappers, why is that? is it because they do not believe his life worthy of talking to terrorists and releasing that woman if necessary? or did they over-trust the government??

    May Allah help him and his family after all of have abandoned him, at least till the moment.

  • SC, I guess it was apathy, however it wasn’t about protesting for the government to negotiate with terrorists, it was about protesting against the action itself, the kidnapping. similar to the post amman protests to condemn terrorism.

  • Yes and the point of such protest is to push the government as well as the terrorists to talk, because that’s the only solution. We could’ve talked to them indirectly and tried to solve the problem, but I doubt that we’ve done our best…I highly doubt that!

  • SC, I have to disagree there. I don’t think the point is to open talks but rather to show them that they are without support, that their actions run opposed by the people they might have thought were allies. If the group feels that too many people are against them they might cave in.

    thats just my take on it

    i mean in such a protest you wouldn’t hear chants of “talk to our government!” it would be more like “let so and so go”

  • This post left a lump in my throat! Yes, we didn’t give much thought to the Jordanian driver who was kidnapped… my friends and I discussed the incident once, wondering what the government would do, debating whether or not there should be any form of negotiations, but then the issue was dropped and everyone went about their everyday lives.

    Yes we are apathetic… the way we all took to the streets after November 9th was a great sign of hope that we can actually pull our act together and stand up for something! It was powerful, it was beautiful! But it was an exception, and I don’t think we can expect to see Jordanians taking to the streets anytime soon to protest an unfair rise in oil prices, an unjustified new tax-law, or the kidnapping of a Jordanian brother, a husband and father!!

    Oh and regarding the government’s attitude.. we’ve all seen examples of how devalued a local is compared to a western national, nothing new here, just sad!!

  • Praise Be….Jill is free. Jill was undoubtedly required to make statements that ensured her freedom. I understand that. Now she is making statements to protect her own reputation that will jeopardize the safety of future hostages. Jill is free. She should keep her mouth shut and understand in her own mind that SHE decided to be a reporter and SHE decided to enter into a hostile country where her death was likely. She is fortunate and she is ensuring with her statements that others will not be. I am sad for those who will suffer because of her mouth.

  • Yes, we should keep Mahmoud Saidat in our thoughts and support all efforts to free him.

    Nas, you say you blame no one for paying attention. You should blame someone: the media, first and foremost. It is the media that gives this man scant attention.

    Unfortunately, I have to tell you that I think some of the things that people do to support hostages are a waste of time, though. People had this “bloggers who support Jill Caroll’s release” movement going on, for instance. The truth is that terrorists probably don’t spend a great deal of time reading blogs. It does not influence the terrorists one iota. I don’t even know how effective street demonstrations and other public displays are in influencing hostage takers. Terrorists haven’t been moved to cease terrorism by condemnations from the public or by prominent Islamic organizations, why should they be moved by groups of people marching and holding up signs.

    The best way to deter a terrorist is to put a bullet in his head. You’ll notice a sharp reduction in terrorist activities from an individual after that measure is taken. 😉

  • Is there another Jordanian being held hostage, then? Maybe I’m confused. There are approximately 40 people being held hostage (or presumed, they may be dead) about now. Saidat must not be the one I’m thinking of. Perhaps the case I’m thinking of is an Arab from one of the Gulf states. I also believe there are a few Turks being held hostage, as well.

    Sorry, I’m terrible at remembering names – especially Middle Eastern ones. 🙁

    “But donâ??t underestimate protests, especially if they come from the Arab and Muslim world and concern one of their own citizens.”

    I suppose, if they raise public awareness, thats a good thing. I just don’t think terrorists and hostage takers care very much.

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