Army of Islam Issues Statement Questioning Why Hamas Has Decided to Start a War Over BBC Reporter Alan Johnston
June 26, 2007
The Army of Islam [Jaish al-Islam], a jihadist group operating in Gaza Strip which kidnapped BBC reporter Alan Johnston, issued a statement through the Global Islamic Media Front to jihadist forums today, Tuesday, June 26, 2007, questioning Hamas and its military wing, the Martyr Izz al-Deen al-Qassam Brigades, over initiating a war with the group over Johnston's capture. Hamas has demanded the release of Johnston, going as far as threatening a military response against the Army of Islam. The group claims that the Martyr Izz al-Deen al-Qassam Brigades has "dared" to kidnap two of its members, a field commander and a Mujahid, when they were returning from dawn prayer, and believes this action and their siding with Britain is tantamount to abandonment of Islam and denial of Shari'a. They announce to Hamas: "you were not the first to be deceived by the mirage. Do not follow he who sold his religion cheaply to get the satisfaction of Britain. In the Name of Allah, Britain will not be pleased with you unless you follow its religion. So are you going to follow it?!"
Rather than focusing on the release from captivity of Sheikh Abu Qatada al-Filistini for the release of Johnston, the Army of Islam uses Sajida al-Rishawi, a female sentenced to death in Jordan for alleged part in suicide bombings which struck hotels in Amman in November 2005, in their argument to Hamas. The group portrays itself as acting in her defense, and asks of Hamas why it chooses to be responsible for her death, and kill or be killed because of an "infidel [Johnston] whose kidnappers want to meet a Muslim woman sentenced to death in the jails of the dictators." Longing for the past when Hamas and the Army of Islam were in accord, one year ago in the capture of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, the group wishes that Hamas recognizes its error and cease its escalation. The Army of Islam also threatens those scholars who issue "misleading fatwas", and reminds of its denial of negotiations for the release of those they captured, stating: "No haggling and no discussion, even if they remain in captivity for a thousand years or are slaughtered like sheep."
"The Army of Islam also threatens those scholars who issue "misleading fatwas".
Now they are threatening the Imans, al Qaeda is now threating the religious leaders...
How long will Islam allow al Qaeda to spit on Allah?
In a statement emailed to AFP Tuesday, June 26, the Palestinian radicals demand that Jordan release the Iraqi woman, Sajida al-Rishawi, who was sentenced to death over triple hotel attacks in Amman that killed 60 people in 2005; Abu Mohammed al-Maqdissi, also held in Jordan since then; and the radical Palestinian-born cleric Abu Qatada, reputed former al Qaeda spiritual leader in Europe, who is held in Britain.
DEBKAfile reports the threat was prompted by Hamas Executive Force’s abduction earlier Tuesday of Musab Durmush, a kinsman of Mumtaz Durmush, chief of the al-Qaeda linked Army of Islam, and his bodyguard Mahmoud al-Katib. The message the group realized – “There will be no compromise, he will either stay in captivity for 1,000 years or be slaughtered like a lamb" means that Johnston’s life will be forfeit unless Hamas frees the Durmush captive.
DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources add: Six days ago, Hamas threatened to free the BBC reporter by force. Durmush rose to the challenge by promising to meet force with force. This made his al-Qaeda-linked militia the only Palestinian force willing take on Hamas, which further builds up al Qaeda’s clout in the Gaza Strip.
Two days ago, Alan Johnston, 45, was shown on video wearing a bomb belt and saying his Gaza captors would detonate it if any attempt was made to rescue him. The British journalist was snatched at gunpoint in Gaza City on March 12.
Shalit’s obviously dictated call on the Israeli government to free thousands of Palestinian prisoners was rejected by prime minister Ehud Olmert at the Sharm el-Sheikh conference Monday, June 25.
“You must meet the demands of the moujeheddin to get me out of prison," said the kidnapped soldier in the first sign of life in his year of captivity. "Just as I have parents who miss me, so too do the thousands of Palestinian prisoners and they deserve to have them home.”
“It has been a whole year and my health is continuing to deteriorate and I need lengthy hospital treatment. I was on a military mission under orders and not a dope peddler.”
The same day, al Qaeda’s No. 2 Ayman Zuwahiri released a new audio video supporting Hamas and its seizure of the Gaza Strip in a dramatic swing round from its earlier criticism.
Sunday, Hamas aired footage produced by al Qaeda’s Army of Islam showing BBC correspondent Alan Johnston wearing an explosive belt and warning that it would be detonated in any attempt to free him.
DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources: The release of the Shalit, Johnston and Zawihiri tapes within a few hours – the first two by Hamas – strongly indicates the timing was coordinated between Hamas and al Qaeda. Although the Army Islam holds the two hostages, its al Qaeda masters appear to be willing to let Hamas use the Israeli soldier to secure the release of a large number of its prisoners from Israeli jails. The kudos for this feat would gain the Hamas government prestige and popularity and create fertile soil for Osama bin Laden’s fundamentalists to further spread their wings in and from Gaza.
DEBKAfile's counter-terror sources report that an earlier audiotape, which has not been released, was handed to Hamas by the henchmen of the chief of the Army of Islam aka al Qaeda Palestine, Mumtaz Durmush, who are holding both Shalit and Johnston. The two kidnapped men ask for their captors’ demands to be met. The two tapes were clearly made by the same hand.
The efforts made by both the Israeli and British authorities to keep al Qaeda connection dark and the two cases separate has worsened their situation. Time is only making Durmush – he now calls himself Abu Muhammad al Ansari – more implacable and more respected for his toughness in the circles of al Qaeda’s Middle East commanders.
Hamas pulled back from storming the Durmush compound in the Sabra district of Gaza City so as not to clash directly with al Qaeda’s Gaza network. Ayman Zuwairi’s support for its takeover of Gaza “despite the mistakes of their leadership” was its reward. Only last week, al Qaeda released a tape reprimanding Hamas for “daring to monopolize the Israeli Gilead Shalit and seeking a deal with Israel.” A victory for Hamas is a victory for Palestine,” said bin Laden’s deputy.