My contacts in Gaza have directed me to a report today on the influential Hamas website, Palestine-info, stating that freed BBC reporter Alan Johnston called Hamas supreme leader Khaled Meshal in Damascus to thank him in person. The call was made yesterday evening when Johnston was at the British consulate in east Jerusalem, according to the report.
Hamas is credited with freeing Johnston, though Fatah claims the whole thing was staged by Hamas and Johnston’s Islamist kidnappers to fool gullible western diplomats. (Hamas has long collaborated with the Army of Islam, the “institutional” name taken on by the bandit Dughmush clan who were holding Johnston. For example, Hamas used the Dughmush gunmen as contract killers against Fatah when murdering Mousa Arafat and others.)
Hamas received many accolades yesterday from the British government and others, only two weeks after the Islamic terror group was throwing fellow Palestinians to their deaths from Gaza rooftops.
Even though by British law, the publicly-funded BBC has an obligation to be objective, Johnston, like many others at the BBC, is known for his pro-Palestinian views.
In his almost hour-long press conference at the British consulate in east Jerusalem yesterday, Johnston went out of his way to thank almost everyone – he named Hamas, Fatah, the Palestinian people, the BBC, the UK Foreign Office, international journalists, the European Union and the UN, among others – but noticeably avoided thanking the government of Israel, who had been aiding the British in all kinds of ways behind the scenes to secure his release.
He also brushed aside questions about the young Israeli hostage Gilad Shalit who is still being held by Hamas in Gaza. By contrast others, such as German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, specifically called for Shalit to be let go when welcoming Johnston’s release.
This afternoon, Johnston paid a courtesy visit to Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.