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Growing likelihood of al-Qaeda link to kidnaps

Growing likelihood of al-Qaeda link to kidnaps

The kidnap of Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig in Palestine by the Holy Jihad Brigades contrasts sharply with previous abductions in Gazak says Middle East politics expert Dr Nigel Parsons.

Dr Parsons notes the kidnapping is distinct in two respects: The longer then unusual duration (today is the 10th day), and the internationalisation of the issue by making demands of a party other than Israel, in this case the United States.

“It may also be evidence of al-Qaeda gaining an operational foothold in the Palestinian territories, an opportunity afforded them by Israel’s systematic deinstitutionalisation of Palestine over the past several years” Dr Parsons says.

Abductions in Gaza are usually intended to help the gunmen secure access to financial resources or redress personnel grievances, and he says the kidnappings are indicative of growing anarchy, poverty and radicalisation arising from Israel’s destruction of the Palestinian Authority and its economy.

Dr Parsons says previous incidents have ended swiftly, bloodlessly, and with hostages often sympathising with the position of their captors. He says it is now very unlikely that the men were targeted due to their work for Fox TV which has an explicitly pro-Israel editorial policy.

“Such a scenario implies that the people behind the operation are familiar with the editorial policies of cable-satellite news networks and this is far from certain, particularly in the absence of a statement to that effect. Indeed, the fact that the statement just issued makes no reference to Fox seems to rule that out.”

Dr Parsons was in the West Bank in June researching Fatah, the formerly-dominant political faction, which lost its majority to Hamas in January’s parliamentary elections, and the Palestinian Authority’s security apparatus. He says that the kidnappings of Mr Centanni and Mr Wiig have a “clear and radically innovative political motive to secure the release of Muslim prisoners in US jails.”

The author of a recently-published book on the Palestinian Authority, Dr Parsons has conducted more than 18 months’ research in Palestine and has interviewed key members of the PLO, PA and various Palestinian factions.

ENDS

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