updated 1/26/2006 2:03:05 PM ET 2006-01-26T19:03:05

Kidnappers are threatening to kill American journalist Jill Carroll on Friday, while Americans and Iraqis work for her release and her family begs for mercy. 

Carroll was kidnapped 11 days ago outside the fortified Green Zone in Baghdad.  And, since then, all that has been seen of her is a short silent video released by her captors, who are demanding that the United States military release eight female Iraqi prisoners that they are holding.  Now, 10 American hostages have been killed since the start of the war.

Many are asking whether Jill Carroll could be lucky enough to be spared. 

NBC terror analyst Roger Cressey and Leland Schwartz, Carroll's friend and former editor at States News Service in Washington joined ‘Scarborough Country’ to examine the future of the kidnapped journalist.

To read an excerpt from their conversation, continue to the text below. To watch the video, click on the "Launch" button to the right.

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, ‘SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY’: Roger, let me begin with you. 

We have heard reports in the past of Germans, the French, the Italians dealing with these terrorists, with these kidnappers.  Any evidence that the United States also does that and that they may do that in this case? 

ROGER CRESSEY, NBC COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST:  I don't think the United States would deal with them directly, Joe.  I think they would use the Iraqis to the extent that they could as a middleman. 

The issue, of course, here, is this group, the Resistance Brigade, a criminal group, and the whole purpose of Ms. Carroll's capture is monetary, or is there something else going on?  Is there a broader political agenda?  Sure they say they want the female prisoners released, but there have been plenty of cases where kidnappers have talked about political goals, but really all they care about is actual money. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Which is, of course, we see these kidnappers come and they will release statements.  And you think that it has something to do with their religion, their faith, holy jihad.  But some of them are just thugs, terrorists, who want to shake these people down.  

Is there any indication, again, from what the Italians have done and the French and others have done, that, actually, that's encouraged groups like this to step forward? 

CRESSEY:  Well, I think the fear always has been that the criminal groups, what they are paid ransom, they were emboldened to conduct even more kidnappings. 

But, Joe, what we have also seen are examples where the criminal groups have conducted the kidnapping and then sold the hostages to the insurgency.  In effect, they could get a better price for a prisoner by Zarqawi's group or people affiliated with him than waiting for someone to pay their initial demands.

So, that combination, it's a very lethal mixture of the criminal element, as well as the insurgency working together, is the worst-case scenario.  And let's hope that's not the case with Ms. Carroll.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, what Ms. Carroll does seem to have going for her tonight, though, is the fact that, as you know, al Qaeda has actually attacked Zarqawi for these public beheadings.  You have got Iraqi insurgents that have been very critical of people that are killing women and civilians. 

Do you think the tide's turning and that there's actually, pressure is heating up on these groups not to kill women, not to kill children, not to blow up grandmothers in public markets? 

CRESSEY:  Well, Joe, I think you can make a strong case that a large percentage of the Islamic world it was revulsion over these type of very public executions, starting with the Americans and then with foreigners.

We have seen it continue with the bombings in Jordan by Zarqawi's group, strong denunciations around the Islamic world.  So, what one hopes now is that with the threat to Ms. Carroll's life right now, you're seeing greater and greater statements by a number of Islamic groups and governments, saying, this is the wrong thing to do.  Killing innocents is against Islam.  It's a mistake.

And, hopefully, that will have some effect on those that have captured her. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Leland, let me bring you in here.  And let's talk about personally about this young woman that you know. 

Obviously, she's got to be a tough journalist to have gone not only to Baghdad, but gone outside the Green Zone in western Baghdad, one of the toughest areas.  Tell me about Jill. 

LELAND SCHWARTZ, FORMER EDITOR OF JILL CARROLL:  There were three things that always struck me about Jill, the first being her clarity and her directness. 

Any time Jill was working on a story, and you asked her exactly what was going on, you always knew you got the straight story, with no spin.  I'm hoping that will help her in this situation with her captors. 

And, secondly, she had a determination about her and a willingness to do almost anything.  When I heard this happened to her, honestly, I wasn't surprised that she was off doing what she was doing, because it just really fit with Jill wanting to see the world and get there. 

The third thing that really struck me and I think all of her colleagues the most, which I hope comes into play here, is a cheer about her, and a warmth and a loveliness.  And these last several days that she's been captive, I have been kind of hoping and wishing that these parts of Jill will sink in to the kidnappers and they will actually fall in love with her and let her live. 

It strikes me that it may dawn on them that they have got an unusual opportunity with Jill, in that, if they don't harm her, they could let her go, and she could be the one journalist that could report the fate of the Iraqi people.  And every single word that she would ever write or say would be heard around the world. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Roger, we touched on this briefly a minute ago, but it seems to me that over the past several months you actually have these Muslim terrorists, these insurgents actually doing things and really losing the war for the hearts and the minds of the Arab world in ways that they're hurting themselves basically in ways that we never could do. 

Do you think they're slowly but surely figuring that out and understanding again that killing this young woman, killing this reporter is only going to hurt their cause moving forward? 

CRESSEY:  Well, you only have to look at Ayman al-Zawahri's letter to Zarqawi, where he asked Zarqawi to stop the public slaughtering of innocents, that it is harmful to the jihadist cause.

So, Joe, I think there is some truth to that.  And I think there are even if large percentages of the Islamic world have serious problems with U.S. policy, I think if you look at the polling date, you see in that data an agreement that the killing of innocents, the kidnapping and ultimately execution of people like this is simply wrong and it is counterproductive. 

So, the challenge then becomes, how do we take advantage of that to continue to drive home that message?  Can we in a way that is not counterproductive?  And, more importantly, how do parts of the Islamic world and the Arab world take that message and drive it home as well?

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