August 23, 2006
(video) Terrorists Threaten to Murder Fox News Hostages
UPDATE: We have what we believe is the original video. Scroll down.
UPDATE: Not so fast. The video has an al Qaeda feel to it, but the content of what Wiig said was interesting. In the video Wiig implores his family and friends to pressure the local goernment in Gaza to get their release. Which is an odd request, if the demand is for the release of Muslim prisoners from U.S. jails--a common Islamist demand in Iraq.
But the statement by The Holy Jihad Brigades sounds very much along the lines of al Qaeda 3.0. UPDATE: And a group with a similar name has operated in the Palestinian territories, and is linked to al Qaeda. "Jihad Brigades in the Border Districts" is al Qaeda in Gaza.
Developing....scroll down for updates.
It is exactly as I feared. The Palestinian terror group that has taken Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig belongs to the cult of Abu Musab al Zarqawi. They have given the 72 hours notice. If their demands are not met, they will be murdered.
Two Fox journalists who were kidnapped in Gaza last week were shown sitting together and speaking on a tape obtained by Reuters on Wednesday.We will have a copy of the video shortly.
A previously unknown militant group, the "Holy Jihad Brigades," earlier claimed responsibility for the kidnapping nine days ago of two journalists and demanded the United States release "Muslim prisoners" within 72 hours.
UPDATE: Washington Post:
"We are going to exchange the Muslim female and male prisoners in American jails in return for the prisoners that we have. We are going to give you 72 hours beginning midnight tonight to take your decision," Ramattan quoted the statement as saying.UPDATE: The two speak on the video. Via Mary Katherine Ham, here is what Fox News has:
"If you implement and meet our condition, we will fulfill our promise. If not, wait, and we are going to wait," the statement said.
Centanni: "We've been captured in Gaza and been held prisoner here and we are in good condition and live as well and in good health. We have water and food and everyday access to the bathroom, shower.Allah has the Fox News segment, which shows part of the video up. As soon as we have obtained a copy of the original video, we will send it to Allah at Hot Air.
We have clean clothes. Our captors are treating us well and so just letting you know that I'm here and I'm alive and I give my love to my family and friends and ask you to do anything you can to help us get out of here."
Wiig: I guess I will add for myself that I know my family. If you can find local pressure or local government here in Gaza and the West Bank to help us, I would appreciate it. To my family, please don't worry. I am okay.
Centanni: We love you all and hope to see you soon.
Update: I like this one word summation of optimism: Alive.
UPDATE: Kidnappers statement via Ms. Underestimated. It's a pretty straightforward call to be converted to Islam, submit to dhimmitude, or die; followed by the demands. The statement does have a Salaafist Islamist feel to it, indicating that there may be an al Qaeda 3.0 connection here:
"This is a statement directed to the infidels in general, without discrimination of their georgraphical location. This is an invitation to enter into the religion of God before a day comes when being an infidel will not do you any good. The victory of God's soldiers can only be achieved by God's help. Nobody can frighten us about our enemy and what it possesses. In the name of God and taught Adam the names. If they throw us in fire it would be cool and safe on us. And if they throw us in water then the whale would pick us up and take us to land. If they want to cut us up, God will save us by sending a sacrifice and deliver us to safety.
No nation can be defeated without the will of God. Quoting Mohammed: 'Do not be sad for God is with us.'
Therefore lords of infidelity and masters of darkness and injustice believe in God and you will be safe or else wait for your turn because we come to slaughter. And every soul will reap what it has done.
You have angered us and we are not the kind that is angered. We are subdued, but rather the fountains of Islam and faith spring up in us.
We now tell you this is the chance we give you. God knows how often this kind of chance can be repeated.
In exchange for the release of the Muslim prisoners, males and females in the prisons of America, with our prisoners.
Release our prisoners and we will do the same. This applies to all without exception. And every Muslim is more cherished and more generous that a 1,000 Bushes. But this is a tradeoff of equals.
We will grant you 72 hours, that starts as of noon today during which you can look into this and if you carry out our condition we will carry out our promise, or else wait and we will wait with you and it will be in God's hands. And God's order is higher than any other and most people do not know. 'Those who have been injust will find out the consequences.'
The time you have starts as of noon Wednesday the 29th of Rajab (the Islamic month) of the year 1447 (Muslim year) which is the 23rd of August 2006.
Our thanks to God, the most gracious.
The Holy Jihad Brigades"
For more info on the plight of hostages around the world, please see our extensive hostage archive.
UPDATE: In related news, I saw a beheading propaganda video the other day that may shed a little light on why it is becoming so hard to distinguish between al Qaeda and other groups. This video bore the logo of The Palestinian Islamic Jihad, but a flag in the background looked like it was that of al Qaeda.
The audio distorted the voices of the two armed boys in it. I say boys, because, by their looks, they seemed to be very young men. After reading a statement, the two boys show a head on a table. The decapitated head appears to be the same one shown in this Palestinian Islamic Jihad video.
The point to all this is that al Qaeda is only one organization that belongs to a larger radical jihadi movement. It has inspired a new generation of terrorists through their careful manipulation of propaganda--especially on the internet--to follow their tactics. So, whether or not the Fox News reporters were kidnapped on the orders of higher ups in al Qaeda, or by teenagers in a gang inspired by al Qaeda, it really makes little difference.
UPDATE: A friend in the media, who has some experience with other hostage takings, offers this hopeful piece of analysis via e-mail
one thing that can be interpreted as good news is that Wiig and Centanni were allowed to speak very freely in their segment.I would add that they seemed to be allowed to speak freely, and I'd agree. And if that is the case, then maybe this group is less likely to murder them? I certainly hope so.
UPDATE: I've now seen the video on several news websites and something important is missing from it. Something that you might not notice if you hadn't seen dozens of similar videos.
Believe it or not, terror organizations are well versed in branding. Each organization has a distinctive logo that they emblazen on their videos. This one does not seem to have it.
I noticed it earlier, but both the Fox News and CNN vids had their own logos running over where the terrorist's logo ought to be. But none of the vids I have seen show a logo. Nothing conclusive, but it is an indication that we may be dealing with amateurs, wannabes, or perhaps money seekers.
Once I get the original vid, we'll know more.
UPDATE: I have what I believe to be the original vid. It looks like the vid run in the MSM is pretty much complete, except for a bit of Arabic writing in the begining and some English titles that name the hostages, which runs about 10 seconds.
Here are a few frames that Howie put together.
UPDATE: Allah e-mails this from ABC's Blotter. I think it is pretty much in line with what I have been saying above.
The language in the statement, which denounces the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, is similar in style and content to the kind of dispatches issued by Abu Musab al Zarqawi when he was leading al Qaeda in Iraq...I would caution, though, that three elements are missing from the video to make this a slam dunk case that it is an al Qaeda operation.
"The rhetoric is vintage al Qaeda," said Fawaz Gerges, an ABC News Consultant and professor of Middle Eastern Studies at Sarah Lawrence College. "This is consistent with what we have seen in Iraq and other places."...
f it is confirmed that a branch of al Qaeda is behind the hostage taking, it would represent a major new front for the terrorist organization, which has in the past deferred to Palestinian groups such as Hamas to conduct the "resistance" against Israel.
1) Branding. Abu Musab al Zarqawi's al Qaeda in Iraq--and it's predecessor organization of Tawhid i Jihad--always branded their videos. Always. This was either done through flags or symbols embedded in the vids.
2) Nasheed & Quranic injunctions. Al Qaeda in Iraq--and later the main al Qaeda organization in Pakistan and it's offshoot in Saudi Arabia--always begin their videos with a nasheed, or Islamic hymn, and quotes from the Quran.
3) Death threat. Although there is an implied death threat in the video and the accompanying statement, there is no overt threat. Zarqawi always was clear on the consequences of not meeting his demands.
What this seems to indicate to me is something I mentioned above, that the hostage-taking was not ordered by al Qaeda, but that the al Qaeda "organization" as once existed, has been transformed into something much larger. Any group of young men can get together, watch al Qaeda propaganda videos, start what is essentially a "gang", give it a cool name, and start copying the tactics of Abu Musab al Zarqawi.
UPDATE: Biting the hand that feeds?