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External involvement in kidnaps may be a ruse

Monday, August 28, 2006

Signs of external involvement in kidnaps may be a ruse

Indications that the kidnappings of Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig in Palestine are influenced by outside forces may be a deliberate ruse by a disaffected cell from the Hamas military wing, says Middle East politics expert Dr Nigel Parsons.

A Palestinian security officer is pointing to external involvement while other Palestinian sources are suggesting the people behind the kidnaps, calling themselves, the Holy Jihad Brigades, are actually much closer to home, Dr Parson says.

He says the possibility that the kidnappers are somehow linked to al-Qa’ida cannot be discounted.

“It is certainly true that Israel’s systematic deinstitutionalisation of Palestine over the past several years has created an opportunity, just as the United States’ deinstitutionalisation of Iraq has created an opportunity there.”

He notes the kidnapping is distinct in two respects: It is of unusually long 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.

“There has been no explicit mention of an al-Qa’ida link in the Palestinian press, although sources in Palestinian security have suspicions that external factors may be behind the abductions.

“Another theory is that the abductions are the work of a disaffected cell from the Hamas military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, whose true aim is to secure the release of cell members held in Palestinian Authority jails.

“This may explain Olaf Wiig’s call for pressure to be applied to local authorities. In this case, the Islam-isation and internationalisation of the incident would be a clever ruse.”

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. He also studied the Palestinian Authority’s security apparatus.


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