Gaza group threatens to kill Johnston

Threat follows 24 hour ultimatum issued by Hamas for BBC reporter's release.

alan johnston 298 88 (photo credit: AP)
alan johnston 298 88
(photo credit: AP)
A shadowy group holding a British correspondent for three months threatened on Sunday to kill him in a video broadcast by the Al-Jazeera satellite TV channel. A spokesman for The Army of Islam, identified as Abu Khattab, told Al-Jazeera that there was no deal to release BBC correspondent Alan Johnston, and "if the situation gets more complicated concerning us and our group, then we will ingrate ourselves to Allah by slaying this journalist." The authenticity of the video could not be independently confirmed. Earlier, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza said there had been no new developments in the case, despite reports that Johnston would be released soon. Johnston, who was kidnapped about three months ago in Gaza City, is said to be held by members of the Dughmush clan, who are demanding money and jobs in the Palestinian Authority. Earlier Sunday, Islam Shahwan, a spokesman for Hamas' militia, said Johnston would be freed "very soon." But Sami Abu Zuhri, another Hamas official, played down hopes for his quick release, saying, "there is nothing new yet regarding Alan." Palestinian officials have said they know where to find Johnston, but have held back on raiding the hideout at Britain's request, for fear of harming him. The deposed PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said earlier that Hamas was moving in a "serious, active way" to win Johnston's release. "We are moving in a serious, active way and I hope, God willing, that this issue will soon end," Haniyeh said. "We are all concerned ... for the safety and security of Alan Johnston." On Saturday, Hamas had issued an ultimatum to Mumtaz Dughmush, the head of the notorious Dughmush clan, to release kidnapped BBC correspondent Alan Johnston within 24 hours. Johnston, 45, was seen for the first since his abduction in a video posted two weeks ago on a Web site used by Islamic militants. He appeared calm and said he was being treated well and was in good health. His disappearance, the longest of any Western journalist abducted in Gaza, has sparked numerous protests and solidarity marches in London and the Palestinian territories.