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In the search for Christian Science Monitor reporter Jill Carroll, who was released in March after being held hostage for 82 days in Iraq, there were leads, there were bad leads, and then there were frauds. Last week Liberia-born Kelvin Kamara indicated in documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that he was preparing to plead guilty to an attempt to extract a ransom from the newspaper in exchange for Carroll’s release. According to court documents, the alleged fraud began five weeks after Carroll was kidnapped in January in a Baghdad neighborhood, when the paper’s Washington bureau chief, David Cook, received a cryptic e-mail. “i can give you informations [sic] to secure the release of jill carroll, I am mujaheeden and I can give every information that can lead to securing her release,” the message said. A second e-mail asked for Cook’s phone number and said he would be contacted. Cook received another e-mail a few days later saying Carroll was about to be taken to a camp in Syria “where she will undoubtedly be executed . . . you can raise two million dollars or else jill is likely to become history.” Cook turned the e-mail messages over to the FBI, which soon discovered that the author of the e-mails was not in Iraq but in Germany and was using software similar to that used in the Nigerian advance-fee scams. To nab the imposter, Cook helped the FBI set up a meeting in Germany by offering to pay $1 million up front and $1 million upon Carroll’s return. The meeting never occurred, but through telephone contact, U.S. and German authorities were able to locate Kamara in Muenster. He was arrested in March and extradited to the United States in August.
Emma Schwartz can be contacted at [email protected].

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