More results...

Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors

More results...

Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors

The Truth Behind Alan Johnston’s Abduction

Want to know who really kidnapped BBC journalist Alan Johnston? According to former Time Magazine Jerusalem bureau chief Matt Beynon Rees, it was none other than the PA (hat tip: Harry).

BBC journalist Alan Johnston is free, but the truth behind his five months as a hostage in Gaza remains murky. If you only read the newspapers, that is.

Journalists won’t be telling you who really kidnapped the 45-year-old Scottish reporter, or why he was released now. So I’ll tell you: powerful figures inside the Palestinian Authority’s security services kidnapped him, and he was released because the Palestinian Authority no longer wields power in Gaza.

Sound too dirty to be credible? You haven’t spent enough time in Gaza. I have.

Here’s how this nasty little episode went. In February, the Palestinians kicked off a civil war between Hamas and Fatah, the main wing of the PLO. The Saudi government, fearful that Iran would use its backing of Hamas to fight a proxy war against U.S.-funded Fatah forces, called the two sides to Mecca to agree a ceasefire.

But foreign correspondents already had given prominent coverage to the Gaza infighting. For Palestinian security chiefs, foreign correspondents are a good thing so long as they report on Israel’s military incursions into Gaza. Coverage of Palestinian gunmen going head to head wasn’t so welcome, of course. In fact, it made Gaza’s main security strongman, Muhammad Dahlan, look like he had lost control.

So a foreign correspondent was nabbed to persuade his colleagues that Gaza was too dangerous to cover. That happened to be Johnston, but it could’ve been anyone else. It could’ve been me.

When Johnston was taken on March 12, Palestinian leaders claimed to know nothing about what had happened. As his captivity extended far beyond the brief duration of previous Gaza kidnappings, the people who took him at first had no demands in return for his release. Curious, because all the previous kidnappings had very clear and immediate demands… Palestinian security chiefs, who know everything that happens inside the tiny strip of land that is Gaza, claimed not to know where Johnston was or who held him. The Palestinian president, on the other hand, assured us that Johnston was in good health…. If no one knew where he was or who had kidnapped him, then how did they know he was doing fine?

Eventually the kidnappers put out enough misinformation in the form of a bogus jihadi-style name for their group — the Army of Islam — and scary movies of Johnston in a suicide-bomber’s belt to appear to give the kidnapping credibility.

Then the kidnappers, who were from a violent Gaza clan called Daghmoush, hit trouble. Two weeks ago, Hamas tired of Fatah’s endless gang warfare and chased them out of Gaza. More precisely, they chased Dahlan’s Preventive Security Service out of Gaza.

On his release Johnston noted that his treatment seemed to change when Fatah and the Preventive Security disappeared from Gaza. That’s because the kidnappers had become isolated. Hamas leaders insisted they would free Johnston, while the kidnappers’ backers inside the security forces had fled. After two weeks, the Daghmoush managed to trade Johnston for an understanding that Hamas wouldn’t give them the same vicious treatment meted out to Dahlan’s henchmen in the Preventive Security.

Just to remind you, this is what the PA said after Johnston’s release.

But a senior aide to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas played down Hamas’ role in the release, saying that it was “a movie” set up by Hamas, who then took credit for securing his freedom.

Yasser Abed Rabbo said that Hamas’ release of the Briton, held in Gaza for nearly four months in the custody of militant group Army of Islam, had been staged, as the two groups were in league with each other. He said Hamas staged the rescue in order to “appear as if [Hamas] respects international law.”

“We’re watching a movie, where the thieves in Gaza fall out and one of them claims to be honest and brave, and the other is the bad guy. This Hamas game fools no one,” Rabbo said.

If what Matt Rees posits is actually true – and it certainly sounds credible – then it really should tell you alot about the so-called PA “moderates” we are arming to the teeth, and in whom we are placing a great deal of trust.

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Scroll to Top