Hamas has pledged to work to free BBC reporter Alan Johnston, who gunmen kidnapped in the Gaza Strip more than three months ago. The vow comes in the wake of Hamas’ bloody seizure of the Gaza Strip.
“We have started taking practical steps to release Alan Johnston,” the Islamic movement’s armed wing said, without giving further details. Sacked Palestinian prime minister Ismail Haniyeh has echoed the sentiment, saying in an interview that the military takeover of Gaza by Hamas is good news for the journalist.
“From now on, there will be one legitimate armed force. We will bring discipline and law to Gaza,” Mr Haniyeh said in an interview with France’s Le Figaro newspaper. “It will thus be easier to gain the liberation of the British journalist Alan Johnston. His kidnappers will listen to us more closely.”
Johnston has been held for 96 days after he was seized from his car as he drove home from work on March 12 in Gaza City. The 45-year-old, one of the few western reporters to be permanently based in Gaza, is by far the longest-detained westerner in the territory.
The Army of Islam has claimed to be holding the veteran newsman and has demanded the release of Islamic militants, particularly Palestinian-born cleric Abu Qatada who is detained in Britain.
Hamas announced it was cutting all ties with the Army of Islam after it claimed the abduction. Hamas officials, including Mr Haniyeh, have repeatedly called for Johnston to be released.
I hope so! Some of the Palestinians are now kidnapping for the sake of kidnapping. Alan Johnston is a friend of the Palestinians, having lived there for a number of years. He is one journalist who presents the Palestinian point of view.
This action brings nothing but the contempt of the world onto the extremist fools who commit this type of affront to civilised behaviour.
Free him! Free him NOW!