debkafile Exclusive: Al Qaeda orders chief of its Palestinian wing not to free BBC reporter Alan Johnston or negotiate release of Israeli soldier

The order appeared in an official al Qaeda Web site early Tuesday, June 19. It explains why Army of Islam leader Mumtaz Durmush is holding onto the British captive at the risk of a clash with the 500 Hamas Executive Force surrounding his compound in Gaza City. Although Britain maintains no official ties with Hamas, the MI5 domestic intelligence chief asked the Palestinian Islamists to refrain from releasing Johnston by force for fear of his life.
In its statement, al Qaeda asks: Why is Hamas suddenly working for Johnston’s release when in Iraq and other places he would be executed? And how dare Hamas monopolize the Israeli Gilead Shalit and negotiate a deal with Israel?
debkafile‘s counter-terror sources report that the communique accuses Hamas of cutting its partners in the kidnap, a reference to Durmush and his Army of Islam, out of the picture.
Al Qaeda’s statement and its order to the group’s Palestinian minion makes the situation of the British and Israeli captives worse than before and brings it out in the open. Both governments have refused to admit that the group which seized Johnston 100 days ago in Gaza and has been one of Shalit’s captors for a year now is a branch of al Qaeda. Now that Osama bin Laden’s organization has published its involvement first time and given Durmush space for a long interview, denial is no longer be an option.

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