An Islamist group in Gaza claimed Wednesday its responsibility for the abduction of BBC reporter Alan Jhonston, who has been taken hostage in Gaza for the past several weeks.

The group, which is known in Gaza, said it has sent out a video tape to the Al-Jazeera Arabic satellite channel, and that it demanded the release of Palestinian prisoner in London Mahmoud Abu Omar, known as Abu Qutada, who has been imprisoned in for linkage to the Al-Qae’da in Europe.

In a second audio tape sent to the Aljazeera this morning, the group stressed that any Palestinian authority force to release Johnston will be counterproductive The Army of Islam became widely known after the June25, 2006’s capturing of the Israeli corporal Gil’ad Shalit by resistance groups linked to Hamas.

The latest fact on Johnston’s life refuted previous claims by unknown group, calling itself ‘the Tawhid and Jihad’ brigades, that Johnston has been executed. Abu Qutada, was imprisoned in 2002 by the British authorities on alleged involvement to the Al-Qa’eda in Europe.

He is wanted by the United States and Jordan. The BBC said it was examining the tape, a source at the BBC’s office in Gaza, revealed. Earlier, Palestinian Prime Minister, Ismail Haniya, said that the abductors of Jhonstin have claimed demands that had nothing to do with the Palestinian situation. Later on, the Prime Minister said the demands were reduced to three.

Alan Johnston, who has lived in Gaza for the past three years, was kidnapped by masked gunmen at a gunpoint in Gaza in March12, 2007.


  Meanwhile, Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) called for the immediate and safe release of the abducted reporter, and added that attacking guests and reporters violated the Islamic tradition.

Ayman Taha, a representative of Hamas, said that this case negatively affects the Palestinian struggle and deforms “the pure image of resistance”.

Since the abduction of Johnston, hundreds of Palestinian journalists protested and demanded his safe and unconditional release.

The abduction was slammed by several Palestinian factions, resistance groups and civil society institutions.