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U.S. Muslims plead for hostage

Chorus of voices urge journalist's release

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Representatives from an American Muslim group are in Iraq to join efforts to free U.S. journalist Jill Carroll, who was kidnapped two weeks ago in Baghdad.

There has been no word since Tuesday from the kidnappers, who are demanding America release all female Iraqi prisoners.

"We are the only people who have come from outside of Iraq to call for Jill's release, and we are very hopeful they will hear our message on behalf of American Muslims," said Nihad Awad, the Council on American-Islamic Relation's executive director, on Saturday.

"Harming her will do no good at all. The only way is to release her," he said. (Watch what groups are saying and doing to convince the kidnappers -- 1:01)

The American Muslim group undertook the journey to ensure the kidnappers would have every opportunity to hear their message, said Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR's communications director.

Carroll was taken hostage on January 7, and her kidnappers threatened to kill her after 72 hours lapsed unless the U.S. military released all women in its custody.

The group, identified as the "Brigades of Vengeance," has not been heard from publicly since their threat. In previous abductions, deadlines have often been fluid, with the insurgents sometimes extending them.

Sunni politician appeals for Carroll

On Friday, the Sunni politician whom Carroll sought to interview the day she was kidnapped joined her father and the chorus of appeals on her behalf.

In a news conference carried on Arab satellite channels, Adnan al-Dulaimi, head of the General Conference of the Iraqi People, urged Carroll's abductors to release the reporter unharmed in the name of Allah. (Full story)

"I call for them to release her. She is a woman who strived for Iraq, defending Iraq and Iraqis, condemning war on Iraq," Dulaimi told reporters. "She is here to cover Iraq's news and bring it out to the world."

He said Iraqis were working round the clock to free Carroll, a 28-year-old freelancer for the Christian Science Monitor who wrote stories about ordinary Iraqis and how the war was affecting their lives.

"We will work with Iraqi and non-Iraqi sides because it is an honorable aim that we are seeking," Dulaimi said.

He also said he never knew of the supposed interview.

In a statement posted on The Christian Science Monitor's Web site, Dulaimi told her captors, "You are insulting me" and "insulting the work that I've been doing for Iraq."

"I'm asking those men who have kidnapped her to release her unconditionally, and I promise, with the help of God, to work on releasing Iraqi prisoners in Iraqi and American jails."

Minister: 6 Iraqi women to be freed soon

An Iraqi deputy justice minister, Bosho Ibrahim Ali, told CNN he had visited and spoken with the nine women detained without charges by U.S. troops in Iraq. He said he expects six of the women to released soon and is working on securing the release of the three others.

Robert Ford, a political adviser at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, said U.S. personnel "have been working intensely with contacts in the Iraqi government and on the outside."

Asked if anyone was in direct contact with Carroll's abductors, he said, "Not that I'm aware of."

Carroll's kidnapping has received an almost unprecedented degree of coverage from the local media.

Her father's appeal

On Friday, Carroll's father pleaded with her captors to spare her life.

"Do not sacrifice an innocent soul," he said on the Arabic-language network Al-Jazeera. "I ask the men holding my daughter to work with Jill to find a way to initiate a dialogue with me."

Carroll is the 35th journalist to be kidnapped in Iraq since the beginning of the war, according to Reporters Sans Frontieres, an advocacy group in Paris.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, however, said 36 journalists have been kidnapped in Iraq since April 2004, when insurgents began targeting foreigners for abduction. Six have been killed, it said.

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