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Army of Islam says BBC Gaza reporter’s release based on religious decision

BBC Monitoring

Text of report by Palestinian Ramattan News Agency website

    ["Army of Islam says: "The release of the British journalist was on the basis of a decision by a religious committee chaired by Shaykh Salman al-Dayah" - Ramattan headline]

    Gaza, 4 July (Ramattan) - The Army of Islam, the group which kidnapped journalist Alan Johnston, has stressed that Johnston's release took place after an agreement was reached with the Al-Qassam Brigades to refer the matter to an arbitration religious committee chaired by Shaykh Salman Al-Dayah. The committee decided that Johnston should be released.

    In a statement, a copy of which the Ramattan News Agency has received, the Army of Islam said that the committee decided that the release of Johnston was necessary "to avoid chicaneries and preserve Palestinian blood." The statement added that the two sides had agreed not to confront each other and to contain any dispute that could arise between them, indicating that each side would proceed on the path of jihad without a merger between them.

    The Army of Islam stressed that "it does not work under the wing of any faction or group nor is it a monopoly of a certain clan or individual, but is the army of Islam and Muslims," emphasizing that its weapon "is the weapon of mujahidin against the Jews, Crusaders, apostates, and their helpers."

    The statement explained that the kidnapping of Johnston was not "for personal motives or interests, but in accordance with Shari'ah instructions. The aim of the kidnapping was to act in accordance with the recommendation of Prophet Muhammad, God bless him and grant him salvation, who said: release the sufferer." The statement added: "God is a witness that what we had taken and what we had given back was only for God's sake."

    The statement noted that "secret negotiations conducted through various quarters were moving ahead in the direction of the release of some Muslims, but the intervention of another side had complicated matters."

    The statement stressed that the "Army of Islam seeks to preserve Muslim blood and not to spill it unlawfully." It said, "We have been pained by the fighting that took place between us and the Al-Qassam Brigades, which was followed by our release of the 'Crusader infidel' without the release of our prisoners. This was done to avoid a big chicanery. Avoiding a chicanery takes precedence over achieving an interest."

    Addressing Muslim prisoners in Western prisons, the statement said: "We have sought to bring about your release. By God, we have not disappointed you and you have not disappointed us. If you have still not enjoyed you freedom, it might hearten you to know that there are brothers of you who do not sleep on injustice."

    The statement called on "mujahidin in the length and breadth of the world whose circumstances allow them, to act in accordance with the recommendation of the Prophet, God bless and grant him salvation, who said: release the sufferer. Our shaykhs and brothers are still languishing in prisons and there is no one to cry for them, unlike this Crusader who drew our sympathy."

    The Army of Islam denied that it had appointed an official spokesman, saying "the so-called Abu-Muthanna is unknown to us and has no direct or indirect links to the Army of Islam."

    Source: Ramattan News Agency website, Gaza, in Arabic 2014 gmt 5 Jul 07



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