US: World opinion toward Hamas hasn't changed

The United States said Thursday that Hamas's role in freeing British Broadcasting Corp. correspondent Alan Johnston has not changed the world's opinion of the Islamic group. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters, "I don't think the world views Hamas any differently as a result of this." Johnston, who spent 16 weeks in captivity in Gaza, was snatched from a Gaza City street by masked gunmen on March 12, shoved into a car and whisked away. A shadowy group called the Army of Islam claimed responsibility. The group, led by a large, heavily armed Gaza family, has seen its once-strong relations with Hamas turn sour in recent months. Hamas hopes Johnston's release will prod the international community into easing a long-standing boycott based on its violently anti-Israel ideology.