Monday, June 25, 2007

BBC captive in 'bomb vest' video

The kidnappers of BBC correspondent Alan Johnston have released a new video of him in which he is wearing what he says is an explosives vest. In the tape, Mr Johnston says his captors have said they will detonate the vest if force is used to try to free him.
To read full report click here

The release of this video indicates nervousness on the part of the Dogmoush clan, who are holding Johnston. Hamas has made clear its intent to clean up the lawlessness and crime families in Gaza--and the Dogmoush is a priority. In an Observer report, posted below, Abu Obieda, a senior Hamas military commander, indicates that if it were not for BBC's requests, he would free Johnston by force:

Abu Obieda and his Qassam Brigades have other more pressing issues. 'We have a lot of clan violence in Gaza and we are working to stop families from fighting each other over past things,' he said. 'But we also are working very hard for the release of Alan Johnston, the BBC journalist.'
Johnston, who has been held for more than 100 days by a group known as 'the Army of Islam', finds himself caught in a sticky situation. The group is made up of members of the Dogmosh family, which has a long-running blood feud with Hamas. Executive Force and Qassam fighters surround the section of town controlled by the family and negotiations continue. But Abu Obieda said the BBC limited his options. 'I can have Alan Johnston out in two hours, if my men go in and take him by force,' he says. 'But several times, the BBC has called me and asked that I not attack and let the talks continue. So we will negotiate because we want no harm to come to this man.'
To read in full click here

This intent on the part of Hamas was corroborated in an NCF meeting with Dr. Nasser Eddin Al Shaer in Ramallah, then Education Minister in the unity government. Dr. Shaer, one of the three Hamas Ministers in the West Bank, made clear that Hamas regarded the lawlessness, crime families and increasing clan warfare in Gaza to be major problem which they wanted to deal with.
They had planned to stage an operation to free Johnston, he told us, but refrained because of requests from the British government, who feared Johnston would be endangered. The response that the British advocate however, has the consequence of encouraging kidnapping and ransoming, because they are not cracked down on. Dr. Shaer is now imprisoned by the Israelis, who attacked Hamas' elected political leadership shortly after we met with him.
--posted by Nick Alexandra

To watch BBC segment including the video click here

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