Carroll was a reporter for the Christian Science Monitor at the time of her kidnapping. After finishing a fellowship at Harvard University's Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy she returned to work for the Monitor. After her release, Carroll wrote a series of articles on her recollection of her experiences in Iraq.
Carroll was reporting in Iraq for the Christian Science Monitor. She has also worked as a commentator for news networks such as MSNBC. She had been in Iraq since October 2003. Before covering the Middle East, Carroll was a reporting assistant  in Washington, D.C., for the Wall Street Journal and worked for States News Service.
According to an Associated Press report on August 9, 2006, U.S. Marines arrested four Iraqi men for participating in Carroll's kidnapping.
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On January 7, 2006, Carroll, along with an interpreter and driver, traveled to the Adel district of Baghdad to interview Adnan al-Dulaimi, a Sunni politician and leader of the Iraqi People's Conference. After discovering that al-Dulaimi was not at his office, they left and soon after were ambushed by masked gunmen. The driver, Adnan Abbas, managed to escape, but Carroll was kidnapped and her interpreter, Alan Enwiyah, 32, was shot dead and his body abandoned nearby by the kidnappers during the abduction. Carroll's driver, quoted in a story posted on the Monitor's website, said gunmen jumped in front of the car, pulled him from it, and drove off with their two captives all within 15 seconds.
Enwiyah, also known as Alan John Ghazi, was formerly a well-known music retailer in Baghdad. According to the New York Times, Carroll was the 36th foreign journalist to be kidnapped in Iraq since the Iraq War began in March 2003.
Among the many kidnappings in Iraq, Carroll's kidnapping evoked one of the most widespread outcries.
"We are urgently seeking information about Ms. Carroll and are pursuing every avenue to secure her release," Monitor editor Richard Bergenheim said in January.
"I, her father and her sister are appealing directly to her captors to release this young woman who has worked so hard to show the sufferings of Iraqis to the world," Mary Beth Carroll told CNN's American Morning on January 19, 2006. In efforts to locate and rescue Carroll, U.S. forces initially raided a mosque in the west of the capital after a tip that "activities related to the kidnapping were being carried out inside," triggering angry protests from Sunni Muslim citizens.
On January 17, 2006, Qatar-based news network Al-Jazeera aired a silent 20-second video-tape that showed Carroll, and indicated that, in an accompanying message, an as-yet unidentified group was giving the United States 72 hours to release all female prisoners in Iraq. If that demand were not met, the group says it would kill Carroll. The silent video showed Carroll speaking in front of a white background. The Qatar-based station said the kidnappers identified themselves as members of a previously unknown armed group calling itself the "Brigades of Vengeance".
Sunni political leader Adnan al-Dulaimi, whom Carroll was attempting to visit when she was kidnapped, gave a press conference on January 20, 2006, and gave the following statements.
"This act has hurt me and makes me sad because the journalist was trying to meet me when she was kidnapped. After she left my office because she was unable to meet me, she was kidnapped 300 meters from my office. We are against violence by any group, and we call the government and U.S. forces to stop raiding houses, arresting women. I call upon the kidnappers to immediately release this reporter who came here to cover Iraq's news and defending our rights."
On January 27, 2006, five female Iraqi prisoners were released from U.S. custody. The U.S. military claimed the releases were already planned and had nothing to do with Carroll's kidnapper's initial threat to kill her within 72 hours unless all female detainees in Iraqi prisons were released.
On January 30, 2006, a second video appeared on Al Jazeera showing Carroll wearing a headscarf and crying. The footage was timestamped with a date of January 28, 2006 and also featured the logo of the "Brigades of Vengeance" a militant group. Although the initial airing of the video did not include audio, Carroll is said to repeat earlier pleas to release all female hostages under American custody.
On February 9, 2006, a third video appeared on private Kuwaiti TV channel Alrai TV. The 22-second video showed Carroll sitting in a chair behind a large floral pattern, in full Islamic dress. She is pleading for supporters to do whatever it takes to release her. Unlike the previous two videos, both audio and video is included. Carroll mentions that the date of the tape is February 2, 2006.
In the tape, she mentions letters that she has written as evidence for the authenticity of the tape. A letter accompanied the tape that was written by Carroll, but no previous letters have been found. The contents of the letter have not been disclosed. The following is a transcript from the video:
"Today is Thursday, February 6-[corrects herself]-February 2, 2006. I'm with the mujahideen. I sent you a letter written by my hand that you wanted more evidence so we're sending you this new letter now just to prove that I am with the mujahideen.
I'm here, I'm fine. Please, just do whatever they want, give them whatever they want as quickly as possible. There is very short time; please do it fast. That's all."
A Kuwaiti television station reported February 10, 2006 that the kidnappers had communicated to them a deadline set for February 26 for their demands to be met, or Carroll would be killed.
Earlier, people close to the kidnappers told Al Rai TV that Carroll is "in a safe house owned by one of the kidnappers in downtown Baghdad with a group of women." On February 14, 2006 Iraqi TV began airing a Public Service Announcement appealing for her release.
On March 30, 2006, Carroll entered the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party offices in western Baghdad around midday and handed office personnel a letter, thought to be from her kidnappers, asking for help, a party official later said. At that time, Carroll said she had just been freed unharmed and was treated humanely during her captivity.
Within days of Carroll's release, a video of Carroll criticizing the occupation of Iraq and praising the insurgents as "good people fighting an honorable fight" appeared on an Islamist website. While counterterrorism expert Laura Mansfield, who had neither met nor interviewed Carroll, posited on CNN that Carroll's actions "may indicate she was experiencing a touch of Stockholm syndrome". The Christian Science Monitor, Carroll's paper, reported:
On April 1, 2006, Carroll released a statement through the website of the Christian Science Monitor, stating she had participated in the video critical of the United States and praiseworthy of her abductors only because she feared for her life and because her captors said they would let her go if she participated to their satisfaction. "Things that I was forced to say while captive are now being taken by some as an accurate reflection of my personal views. They are not." Carroll called her captors "criminals, at best" and said she remains "deeply angry" with them.
On April 2, Carroll returned to Boston, where she was greeted at the airport by her editor Richard Bergenheim and whisked off to a reunion with her family. On the flight, she said "I finally feel like I am alive again. I feel so good. To be able to step outside anytime, to feel the sun directly on your face—to see the whole sky. These are luxuries that we just don't appreciate every day."
Support for Jill Carroll's safe release was international. Efforts included a Baghdad newspaper whose front page read, "She loves Iraq. Now she needs your help."
On February 5, 2006 in Rome a giant poster of Carroll, urging her release, was hung on the city hall building. The poster was removed after her release. In previous months, similar efforts were shown by hanging photographs of other kidnapped individuals from the same spot.
In Paris, on February 7, 2006, 30 white balloons were released to mark the 30 days of Carroll's captivity (in actuality 32 days at that point). French actress Juliette Binoche appeared to show her support. Both the Rome and Paris efforts were coordinated by Reporters Without Borders.
On August 24, 2008, the United States military announced that on August 11 they captured Al-Qaeda militant Salim Abdallah Ashur al-Shujayri (aka Abu Uthman) in Baghdad, a man believed to be the planner behind Carroll's kidnapping.