Kidnappers of BBC reporter Alan Johnston deny his release

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Army of Islam talking to Al-Jazeera.
Image: al-Jazeera.

The Army of Islam, a militant group which claims responsibility for kidnapping BBC News reporter Alan Johnston, has denied that a deal has been reached with Hamas that would secure his release and threaten to kill Johnston if Hamas fails to honor the group's demands, in a video broadcast on Al Jazeera.

Despite the threat, the militant group has said that there are "developments" in the discussions with Hamas, but the group did not say what those developments were.

"There are developments and we will let you know when there are new developments. If they do not meet these demands there will be no release of this prisoner, but if things get worse we will get closer to God by killing this journalist," said an unnamed masked man in the video who is reportedly a spokesman for the Army of Islam.

In the video, the man says that in order for Johnston to be released, Abu Qatada, a Palestinian cleric who is in a British prison in the U.K., and all other "Islamic prisoners" must be released from prison.

It is not known if the video is genuine. Johnston was kidnapped while he was returning to his home on March 12 in Gaza City.