Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Terrorist group (Hamas) pressures another terrorist group (Army of Islam) to release BBC reporter

Now I've seen everything... Alan Johnston, a BBC reporter that was kidnapped over 16 weeks ago in Gaza, has been freed...not by Palestinian security forces, not by Israel, not by U.S. special ops, but by Hamas? Hamas, a known terrorist group, surrounded another terrorist group, the Army of Islam, and told them, "Either free the foreign journalist or die." After much negotiation (first through random bullets, killing one civilian) and then through talking -- Johnston is free!

I can honestly now say, the pigs are flying. Hell is frozen. And the fat lady has sung.

Why did Hamas do this?
First, Hamas' main mission is to shutdown Israel and to retake Arab "territory". They clearly wanted to differentiate themselves from the likes of Al Queda, who has a philosophy of kill anything that moves and praising Allah for it. By paying respects to the media and international reporters, Hamas set a "tone" on how they will resist. They will not harm neutral parties but only attack known enemies.

Second, Hamas wants to show the world that they are running Gaza. As most people know, Hamas has overthrown Fatah in Gaza, the official security force of the Palestinian government. Fatah has struggled to maintain law and order in Gaza, and with this particular move, Hamas has shown that not only does it have the manpower to fight to maintain peace, it also has the will to do it. In short, this move was meant as a slap in the face to Abbas' Fatah forces.

Final thoughts
Hamas deserves credit for freeing Alan Johnston.

Does it free Hamas criminals from their previous crimes of suicide bombings and assaults on the civilian population of Israel? No. But it does offer some hope that Hamas is showing a moderate side, that there are people in the organization that actually care about life rather than a campaign of death.

Tony Blair, in his new respectable role of Middle East envoy, should offer an olive branch to Hamas: drop the suicide belts, drop the death to Israel mantra, and go to the negotiation table to create a lasting Palestinian state and Middle East peace.

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