March 30, 2006

Jill Carroll - Interesting Choice of Words

Jill Carroll, a reporter for the Christian Science Monitor kidnapped in Baghdad in January of this year, was released today. A heretofore unknown group calling themselves the "Revenge Brigades*" had claimed responsibility.

After her release, Carroll made a few remarks that are telling. In addition to the fact that she said she was treated well (I guess not being beheaded or shot puts that in some perspective), I was intrigued by the fact that she referred to her captors as "the mujahidin."

Mujahidin is an Arabic word meaning "holy warriors." It has been used by many Arab and non-Arab Muslim groups to tie their particular cause to Islam.

I believe that her captors likely referred to themselves as mujahidin because they regard themselves as an Islamic movement. Several indications point to this. First, their initial demands were the release of women being held by coalition forces and Iraqi authorities. They claimed to be offended that women were being detained. Second, they released Ms Carroll to the Iraqi Islamic Party, a group with similar ideology. Third, the Arabic word used for "revenge" in their title has a religious connotation - there is another more common word for revenge that has less religious overtones. And of course, they referred to themselves as holy warriors. The fact that they released her may also reflect their willingness to listen to the unusual almost universal call among the Muslim clergy for Carroll's release.

I wonder if her words were chosen as part of an agreement for her release.

See my earlier piece on this incident.
* Kata'ib Al-tha'r, literally "the battalions of revenge, vengeance or blood revenge."