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Cablegate: Kidnapping of Knight Ridder Journalists

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L TEL AVIV 006084


E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/14/2015

Classified By: Political Minister-Counselor Norman H. Olsen. Reason 1.
4 (B/D).

(U) This message has been cleared by Consulate General

1. (C) The October 12 kidnapping of an American reporter,
Dion Nissenbaum, and a British photographer, Adam Pletts,
near Khan Yunis is symptomatic of the lawlessness that
prevails in the Gaza Strip, according to Embassy Fatah
contacts in Gaza. An influential Fatah-affiliated lawyer in
Gaza City told Embassy poloff that this kidnapping -- like
other recent abductions -- represented a challenge to the
Palestinian Authority (PA), rather than an attack directed at
specific individuals, such as these journalists.

2. (C) UN sources reported that six gunmen from the Rafah
and Khan Yunis-based Al Najar family in Gaza conducted the
kidnapping. ConGen sources suggest that the motive was to
put pressure on the PA to officially recruit the gunmen into
PA security services and the Israeli press reports that the
kidnappers had demanded that the PA raise the salaries of
their relatives who serve in the Palestinian police. A
Gaza-based PLC member, Abdullah Efrangi, confirmed to Embassy
poloff that the perpetrators were indeed from the Al Najar
family, but noted that leaders within this large family had
condemned the kidnapping: "This was a well-known, bad group
from within the Al-Najar family that sought to blackmail the
PA." Efrangi emphasized that this group -- which press
reports have referred to as the "Black Panther" group -- is
unrelated to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a larger, more
organized group affiliated loosely with the Fatah movement.
Another Gaza contact who follows security issues closely
indicated that this is the first time in his recollection of
any group operating under that name.

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3. (C) Press and UN reports highlighted the role that
Palestinian police and security officials, such as BG Jamal
Kayed and Police Chief Ala Husni, played major roles in
securing the quick release of the two Knight Ridder
journalists, who were abducted at 1530 hours on October 12 in
the Al Mawasi area, near the former Gush Katif settlement
bloc west of Khan Yunis. The UN reported that members of the
Salah Ed-Din brigades (military wing of the "Popular
Resistance Committees") negotiated with the kidnappers for
several hours in an attempt to secure their release.

4. (C) Embassy Fatah contacts confirmed that President Abbas
himself had intervened to secure their release by 2100 that
night. (Note: The CG and General Ward personally weighed in
with Abbas' chief of staff and the Minister of Interior; see
septel. End note.) Efrangi acknowledged, however, that a
number of other groups outside the PA also weighed in to
secure the release, and complained that the PA security
forces lack the necessary means to confront the
militarization of Gazan society or the threat posed by
organized militias such as Hamas. Efrangi said he is
confident that Fatah will be able to exert greater discipline
over some organized militias. Absent jobs, trade and the
opening of Rafah crossing, however, Efrangi is less sanguine
about the PA's prospects for instituting the rule of law in
the Gaza Strip.

********************************************* ********************
Visit Embassy Tel Aviv's Classified Website:

You can also access this site through the State Department's
Classified SIPRNET website.
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