Emotional Homecoming for Jill Carroll
04/03/2006 AT 08:25 AM EDT
"I finally feel like I am alive again. I feel so good," the 28-year-old freelance journalist said Sunday, according to The Christian Science Monitor (the publication for which she was reporting when she was captured Jan. 7). "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."
En route to Boston, a flight attendant handed Carroll a copy of USA Today featuring a story about her release. Carroll kissed a photo of her father, Jim, in the paper, saying, "He looks good." She also affectionately stroked a picture of her mother, Mary Beth.
Later, in a statement drafted by Carroll and read by her editor, Richard Bergenheim, at a press conference, the former hostage addressed a video she'd made prior to her release. In the video, recorded by her captors and posted on an Islamist Web site, Carroll spoke out against the U.S. military presence in Iraq, according to the Associated Press.
"During my last night in captivity, my captors forced me to participate in a propaganda video," Carroll said in her statement. "They told me they would let me go if I cooperated. I was living in a threatening environment, under their control, and wanted to go home alive. I agreed.
"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. The people who kidnapped me and murdered Allan Enwiya (her Iraqi translator, who was killed during the abduction) are criminals, at best.
"They robbed Allan of his life and devastated his family. They put me, my family and my friends – and all those around the world who have prayed so fervently for my release – through a horrific experience. I was, and remain, deeply angry with the people who did this."