Kidnapped BBC Man's Fate Hangs on Clan Feud

[Observer-UK] Mitchell Prothero - Hamas security forces snatched two members of Jaish al-Islam on their way from dawn prayers on Tuesday and held them at the former Fatah military intelligence HQ, hoping to pressure the group - led by Mumtaz Dughmush - into releasing BBC correspondent Alan Johnston. "The response to this was that Mumtaz threatened all foreigners and journalists in Gaza," said Hamas police commander Abu Khalid. Jaish al-Islam has demanded the release of one of three prisoners: Abu Qatada, a radical Palestinian cleric held in the UK; Sajida Rishawi, an Iraqi woman sentenced to death in Jordan for her participation in a 2005 suicide bomb hotel attack that killed scores of people; and Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, linked to the late Abu Musab Zarqawi, who is also in Jordanian custody. Moderates in the Dughmush family say that Jaish al-Islam has become more radicalized and closer to al-Qaeda in the past year with the arrival of veterans of wars in Chechnya and Iraq, and they fear Mumtaz has fallen under the sway of al-Qaeda's brand of global jihad. It also explains demands for the release of Islamic militants not linked to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

2007-07-02 01:00:00

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