The U.S. military said Thursday it would release five Iraqi women detainees, a move demanded by the kidnappers of an American reporter to spare her life. The women will be freed Thursday and Friday as part of a group of about 420 Iraqis to be released from military custody after reviews of their cases determined there was no reason to keep holding them.
Armed men who abducted Jill Carroll on Jan. 7 in Baghdad have threatened to kill the freelance reporter for the Christian Science Monitor unless all Iraqi women prisoners were freed.
The military confirmed it is holding nine Iraqi women. The fate of the remaining four was not immediately clear. A top Iraqi official and the mother of one of the Iraqi female detainees confirmed the imminent releases, saying they were expecting them to occur Thursday. Busho Ibrahim Ali, the deputy justice minister, said five female detainees are expected to be released from the Camp Cropper detention center on a U.S. base near Baghdad International Airport.
Ali said the women would be brought to the heavily fortified Green Zone, where the Iraqi government and U.S. Embassy are based in Baghdad, and handed over to a senior Sunni Arab political leader and received by their families.
Siham Faraj, a mother of 28-year-old Hala Khalid, who was arrested with her brother on Sept. 24 during a dawn raid by U.S. forces on their Baghdad home, said she was waiting anxiously to see her daughter and hoped it would lead to Carroll's safe release.
"We are happy and we thank God for this blessing," Faraj told The Associated Press. "I call upon the kidnappers of the American reporter to release her because she is as innocent as Hala." "I wish the Americans would stop random arrests. We only want peace in this country." U.S. and Iraqi officials have repeatedly said that and release of the Iraqi detainees was unrelated to efforts to free Carroll. But releasing detainees in the Green Zone would be unusual. Most are simply driven to a Baghdad bus station or town near their home and let go, reports the AP. N.U.