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Mother to captors: 'Vengeance ... will not create justice'

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Mary Beth Carroll says her daughter "has always shown the highest respect for the Iraqi people."

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Mary Beth Carroll, the mother of abducted journalist Jill Carroll, urged the woman's captors Thursday to release her daughter, saying "they've picked the wrong person."

"Taking vengeance on my innocent daughter who loves Iraq and its people will not create justice. To her captors, I say that Jill's welfare depends upon you. And so we call upon you to ensure that Jill is returned safely home to her family, who needs her and loves her," she said on CNN's "American Morning."

In the first interview since the freelance writer's abduction, Mary Beth Carroll said: "If they're looking for somebody who is an enemy of Iraq, Jill is just the opposite."

"Jill has always shown the highest respect for the Iraqi people and their customs. We hope that her captors will show Jill the same respect in return," she said in a family statement. (Watch a mother's appeal for her daughter's life -- 7:35)

Carroll elaborated that her daughter's "fairness in reporting and her genuine concern for the Iraqi people made her the invited and welcomed guest of many Iraq friends."

She said a "video just released gives us hope that Jill is alive but has also shaken us about her fate. So I, her father [Jim] and her sister [Katie] are appealing directly to her captors to release this young woman who has worked so hard to show the suffering of Iraqis to the world."

Jill Carroll, 28, appeared in a video Tuesday on the Arabic-language TV network Al-Jazeera, which said her kidnappers threatened to kill her unless the United States releases all female Iraqi prisoners within 72 hours. Parts of the same video were aired again Thursday. (Watch the footage released by the kidnappers -- 1:35)

Of the 14,000 people detained by the United States, eight are women, according to the U.S. military.

The military said Thursday it was not aware of plans to release any female detainees.

Sen. John Kerry said In Baghdad, Iraq, on Thursday that killing Jill Carroll would be antithetical to the kidnappers' demands.

"This young reporter, by all reputation over here in Baghdad, is somebody who has the interests of the Iraqi people at heart," Kerry said, "and if they're concerned about women being released from prison, the worst thing in the world to do is take a young reporter and put her in this kind of a situation."

Though the Massachusetts Democrat said every effort is being made to rescue Carroll, he rejected the notion that the United States should negotiate with her captors.

"You can't negotiate with terrorists," Kerry said, "because once there's a beginning, there's no end at all, so we have to take the hardest line possible."

Abducted reporter knew the dangers

The family has asked the captors to work with Jill "to find a way to contact us with the honorable intent of discussing her release."

The mother stressed her daughter's passion and love for the Middle East and her efforts to sharpen her Arabic-language skills.

She said Jill knew war was coming in Iraq and didn't want to cover it like a "parachute journalist."

"She wanted to get to the Middle East early, learn about the people of Iraq, learn about the culture and customs and politics so she could report well and accurately with deep background information."

She called her daughter a "strong young woman" with convictions, passion and compassion.

"She did everything from interviewing the Sunnis to Shias," Mary Beth Carroll said. "Also some of the stories, I remember, are about the schools that were being rebuilt and how some of them were falling apart and how that affected the education of children."

She said that she and her daughter had talked about the possibility of abduction.

"I told her frankly how I felt if she was kidnapped, what I would be thinking, and [that I would be] supporting her and knowing that she was doing what she loved and what she thought was very important to do, and that that would give me and her family comfort at this time, and it does," she said.

"She knew what the dangers were, she knew what the risks were, and she chose to accept those, because what she was doing to communicate to the world the sufferings of the Iraqi people was important."

The ordeal is nerve-wracking for the Carrolls, the mother said, but they want to stay strong.

"I think that I'm in shock right now, and I know that falling apart is not going to help my daughter, and I could say her father and her sister are the same way," Mary Beth Carroll said.

Newspaper making 'strenuous efforts' to free reporter

Carroll was on assignment for The Christian Science Monitor when she was abducted January 7.

The Boston, Massachusetts-based newspaper said Wednesday it is "availing itself of every option we can think of to secure her release." (Full story)

The Council of American-Islamic Relations, a grassroots group that has been calling this week for Carroll's immediate and unconditional release, issued a new statement Thursday signed by American Muslim leaders, scholars and organizations.

It stated that Carroll has "a well-documented record of objective reporting and respect for both the Iraqi people and Arab-Islamic culture."

"Certainly, no cause can be advanced by harming a person who only sought to let the world know about the human suffering caused by the conflict in Iraq," the statement said, adding that CAIR has sent a delegation to Iraq to try to secure Carroll's release.

The White House announced Wednesday that Carroll's safe release is an administration priority.

The Bush administration has said repeatedly it will not negotiate with terrorists, and spokesman Scott McClellan declined to elaborate on the White House announcement, citing the sensitivity of the matter.

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