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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Is the Alan Johnston kidnapping connected to Gilad Shalit?

DEBKAfile is reporting tonight that BBC reporter Alan Johnston, who was kidnapped in Gaza ten days ago, is actually being used to try to drive up the price to be paid by Israel for the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.
Our counter-terror sources disclose that Montaz Durmush, leader of the Army of Islam (Al Qaeda-Palestine), which is holding both hostages, is using the British journalist as a tool to drive up the price demanded of Israel for Shalit’s freedom.

Neither has been seen since their abduction. Durmush is posting threatening notices to the UK government about Johnston’s fate through a third party, to make the British lean on Israel to extort an exorbitant price for the two men’s release.

A team of 20 British agents, most of them from the MI6 secret service, is working in Gaza to make contact with the abductors, or just to obtain a sign of life from Johnston – so far without success. It is beginning to dawn on the group that the BBC reporter’s seizure was not just another short-lived kidnapping of a Westerner like the ones plaguing Gaza and the West Bank in recent months, but a drawn-out affair with no knowing how it will turn out.

March 20, a longwinded statement was released in the name of a faction called the “Popular Resistance Front” with details about the Shalit kidnapping. The wording implies that the three groups holding Shalit, Hamas, the Popular Resistance Committees and the Army of Islam, are vying over which can squeeze better terms from Israel.

British and Israeli intelligence circles believe both hostages are caught up in factional rivalries in Gaza over who will dominate the Palestinian unity government. Neither Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas nor prime minister Ismail Haniyeh was in any position to deliver on their promises to work for Shalit’s early release. They never were, since they have no influence with the kidnappers and are not in touch with them.
I just hope that Israel doesn't let itself get talked into paying an even more exorbitant price for Shalit's release so that the 'Palestinians' will also release the useful idiot.


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