Media Blog

Alan Johnston update: BBC finally admits to having relations with Hamas

That Hamas and the BBC have close relations isn’t exactly a revelation. See here and here, for example.
But finally the BBC, the world’s biggest broadcaster, has itself admitted to being in touch with Hamas – the group that unlike other Islamic terror groups, has made a habit of deliberately targeting children (in school buses, bat mitzvah birthday parties, pizzerias filled with kids and so on).
A senior BBC executive has confirmed that the BBC held private meetings with Hamas
– whose gunmen usually wear ski masks to hide their identity – in the days leading up to the release of reporter Alan Johnston.
In a new posting on the blog of the BBC News website, BBC Middle East bureau editor Simon Wilson confirms that he held meetings with Hamas leaders in Gaza and Damascus to discuss Johnston’s fate. In his piece, titled “The Joy of Alan,” Wilson hints he was ordered to do so by more senior officials at the BBC.
Wilson also reveals that he and several colleagues were nearly kidnapped themselves on one of their outings to Gaza:

One grim day, a group of masked and armed men apparently looking for a hostage turned up 20 minutes after one of my colleagues had just left a building in Gaza City. Shortly afterwards, a contact in a western intelligence service gave us chilling and compelling evidence that our every move was being followed by a car full of armed gang members.

The BBC isn’t the only organization apparently now cooperating with Hamas. Yesterday in an interview with Italy’s RAI TV, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Gaza’s Hamas rulers were forging ever-closer ties with al-Qaeda and inviting al-Qaeda operatives to enter Gaza. “Thanks to the support of Hamas, al-Qaeda is entering Gaza,” Abbas said.

Would Wilson and other BBC officials also now like to comment on this report in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida – especially located by my sources in Gaza – that Jaysh Al-Islam (the so-called Army of Islam group who were holding Johnston) received $5 million and a million Kalashnikov rifle bullets in the deal to release Johnston?
I think British TV license-payers are entitled to know what is done with their money.

Tom GrossTom Gross is a former Middle East correspondent for the London Sunday Telegraph and the New York Daily News.

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