The first concrete evidence that Alan Johnston, the BBC’s missing Gaza correspondent, has been kidnapped, has emerged this morning. Al-Jazeera has received a video tape from a group called Jaish al-Islam, or Army of Islam, claiming to be holding Johnston, who went missing on March 12. The tape includes footage of Johnston’s BBC ID tag.
In a message on the tape, the group demands that Muslim prisoners in Britain “and other infidel countries” be freed in exchange for Johnston’s release, according to Al Jazeera.
This is the first time demands have been made by Johnston’s purported kidnappers.
Interestingly, the BBC at first omitted the demand to release Muslim prisoners in Britain from its report this morning on the Al-Jazeera tape. They later updated their website to include the information, but only after critics of the BBC (of which there are many) pointed out that the BBC never shies away from running long reports about demands to release Muslim prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, in Israel and elsewhere.
Of course, the BBC does have its very own Middle East foreign policy.