Reporter Jill Carroll suspects an influential Sunni politician or someone from his Baghdad office may have set up her abduction.
But Carroll's captors also told her Adnan al-Dulaimi, head of the Iraqi Accordance Front, met at least twice with the chief captor, and publicly pleaded for them to let her go.
Dulaimi denies he was involved in Carroll's kidnapping, and further maintains that he paid a ransom for her release, according to a report by The Christian Science Monitor.
Carroll, then a freelance reporter for the Monitor and now a staff member, was abducted 100 yards from Dulaimi's office on Jan. 7, after he failed to show up for an interview. Her Iraqi interpreter, Alan Enwiya, was shot dead.
"Within minutes of my capture, I had suspected Dulaimi," Carroll wrote in the seventh installment of a series about the 82 days she spent in captivity. "The kidnappers were waiting for us when we left his office. They must have known about my appointment ahead of time."
Dulaimi maintains his innocence, saying he secured Carroll's release by secretly paying a $1.5 million ransom. He said he paid $500,000 the morning she was released, then made subsequent payments in late June for the total.
"I swear I paid," Dulaimi told the Monitor. "I challenge anyone to say I (didn't) pay. ... The proof is just me. Either it's my proof, or I am lying."
Other ransom claims also have surfaced since Carroll's release, but Monitor editors and the Carroll family said they had no evidence proving any of them.
The Monitor also quoted an unnamed U.S. Embassy official in Baghdad and an unnamed senior Iraqi police officer as saying they didn't believe Dulaimi was directly involved in Carroll's abduction.
Dulaimi's version of events -- including initially denying he ever had an appointment to meet Carroll -- has changed over time, the newspaper reported.
Dulaimi permitted some of his office guards and staff to be questioned by FBI agents about Carroll's kidnapping, but their answers often contradicted reports by Western news agencies about what happened that day, the Monitor said.
The Monitor report said one theory is that Dulaimi may have approved a brief kidnapping to boost his credibility with Sunni extremists, or that someone in his office set it up, but events spun out of control. Carroll was told at first she would be held for only a week, the newspaper said.
According to Carroll, her captors frequently ridiculed Dulaimi and other Sunni leaders in the government when they appeared on television news. Dulaimi is deemed a traitor by Sunni insurgents because his Iraqi Accordance Front is the most powerful Sunni bloc in Iraq's Parliament.