Thursday, July 05, 2007

What was the deal to release Alan Johnston?

Different rumors are flying about what exactly the "Army of Islam" Dughmush clan got in exchange for releasing Alan Johnston.

From Ma'an:
According to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, "the army of Islam will receive five million US dollars and more than one million bullets". The sources added that "a pledge was made by some of the religious leaders, who issued a fatwa announcing that the acquiring of a ransom would be preferable to killing the reporter". The clerics also allegedly received guarantees from the leaders of the Hamas-affiliated Al Qassam Brigades and the leaders of the Army of Islam, who agreed to exchange the reporter for the money.

The anonymous sources confirmed that the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) mediated between the Army of Islam and the Qassam brigades. "The army [Army of Islam] first received the money and the bullets, although the deal also included the release of members of [the Army of Islam], abducted by Hamas, and a pledge from the Hamas movement not to attack 'the army' in the future." The militant group then apparently handed Johnston to clan sheikhs, and then on to former Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.

In statements to journalists, the PRC confirmed the fatwa, but did not speak about any financial ransom.

A spokesman for the PRC said that the deal was that the abductors would be allowed to keep their weapons, and denied any ransom in the deal.

Prominent Hamas leader, Mahmoud Zahhar, is reported to have said that the man was released "without any conditions".

Al Quds al Arabi, the London-based newspaper reported that Said Siyam, the former Hamas interior minister had stated that Mumtaz Doghmosh, and three of his comrades, had stood accused of committing the assassination of the late General Jad at-Tayih.

According to Palestinian sources, Doghmush has now received guarantees from Hamas that he will not be taken to court for the crimes it is alleged he has committed. The same sources added that the deal also includes the release of Khattab Al Maqdsi, abducted by Hamas some days ago.
From the Jerusalem Post:

A clan member told The Jerusalem Post that the five-point agreement with Hamas recognized the Army of Islam as "the weapon of mujahideen [holy warriors] against Jews, Crusaders and apostates."

He said the deal also banned Hamas and the Army of Islam from attacking each other and called for solving future disputes peacefully.

"The Army of Islam belongs to all Muslims, and not a particular clan or faction," the clan member said. "We decided to release the journalist so as not to give an excuse to the Crusaders to dispatch international troops to the Gaza Strip."

Another member of the clan said Mumtaz Dughmush decided to release Johnston after he received assurances from Hamas that he and his relatives would not be killed. "We wanted to avoid a bloodbath in the Gaza Strip," he said. "It's forbidden for a Muslim to shed the blood of his Muslim brother."

From World Net Daily:
In exchange for the release of BBC reporter Alan Johnston, Britain told the Hamas terror group through mediators it would free from jail an extremist sheik accused of serving as al-Qaida's spiritual adviser in Europe, Palestinian sources involved in the negotiations claimed to WND.

The sheik, Abu Qatada, is accused among other things of advising 9/11 terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui and attempted shoe-bomber Richard Reid. Qatada's sermons were found among the possessions of 9/11 operational leader Mohamed Atta.

The Palestinian sources involved in the Johnston negotiations claimed the British government pledged through a third-party mediator to release Abu Qatada after six months so the release wouldn't appear connected to Johnston's freedom.
I don't know which is the most accurate, but the idea that the clan released Johnston only because of Hamas or because of a fatwa is laughable. Of course, the MSM is not known to think too critically.