U.S. frees 5 women detainees

Associated Press
Published January 27, 2006

BAGHDAD - The U.S. military released five Iraqi women detainees Thursday, and a top Iraqi police officer expressed hope the move might help win the freedom of kidnapped American Jill Carroll.

However, U.S. officials insisted the release was not linked to the demand by Carroll's kidnappers that all women detainees be freed. The women were among 420 detainees being released Thursday and today, the U.S. command said.

Gen. Hussein Ali Kamal, head of intelligence at the Interior Ministry, said freeing the Iraqi women "might assist in releasing Carroll," a freelance reporter for the Christian Science Monitor.

"Any announcement may not benefit the case because of its sensitivity, but we can say, God willing, that she will be released," Kamal told the Associated Press.

U.S. Embassy spokesman Tom Casey said American authorities were not convinced the release of the Iraqi women would have any influence over the kidnappers.

"If this provides them with a justification to release Jill, that would be wonderful, but we are not sure it will," Casey said. "We just want her released by any means."

Last week, the military confirmed it was holding nine Iraqi women, and it was not known when the others might be let go. Two more women were detained Wednesday for alleged insurgent activities, the military said Thursday.

Iraqis taken into custody on suspicion of insurgent activity are interrogated and investigated to determine if there is evidence to charge them. The cases are referred to a U.S.-Iraqi committee, which determines if the detainees should be released. The process can take months.

Carroll, 28, was kidnapped by gunmen Jan. 7 after leaving the Baghdad office of a Sunni Arab politician, Adnan al-Dulaimi. Her translator was killed and her driver fled.

The kidnappers identified themselves as a previously unknown group, the Revenge Brigade. They issued a videotape of Carroll that first aired on Al-Jazeera television Jan. 17 and said they would kill her unless all Iraqi women in detention were freed within 72 hours. The deadline passed without any word.

The reporter's parents have made repeated televised pleas for their daughter's release. A Washington-based American Islamic advocacy group flew to Baghdad to drum up support for Carroll, and Islamic leaders from Iraq to Paris have called for her freedom.

HUSSEIN WANTS TO SUE BUSH, BLAIR: Saddam Hussein's chief lawyer said Thursday that the deposed Iraqi president wants President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair tried on allegations of committing war crimes.

Khalil al-Dulaimi said Hussein wants to sue both leaders, along with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, for allegedly authorizing the use of weapons such as depleted uranium artillery shells, white phosphorous, napalm and cluster bombs against Iraqis.

"We will sue Bush, Blair and Rumsfeld in The Hague for using such weapons of mass destruction," al-Dulaimi, in Jordan, told the Associated Press in Baghdad during a telephone interview.

No complaint has been filed with the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands, but al-Dulaimi said Hussein's foreign defense team will present it "very soon."

There have been several allegations that the United States used outlawed weapons, such as napalm, in the November 2004 Fallujah offensive, but the Pentagon has denied using it.

In November, the Pentagon acknowledged that U.S. troops used white phosphorous shells against insurgent strongholds in the same Fallujah battle.

Protocol III of the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons prohibits the use of white phosphorous as an incendiary weapon against civilian populations and in air attacks against military forces in civilian areas. The United States is not a signatory to the convention.