World Spotlight: The Kidnappers' Code

Even in the volatile Gaza Strip, hostage taking had at least one firm rule. Journalists were released quickly, usually with tea and apologies. Those customs seem to have been thrown out with the case of respected BBC correspondent Alan Johnston, 44, grabbed by gunmen in Gaza on March 12. So far, it is not clear why the broadcast journalist was kidnapped. No demands have been forthcoming, only a harrowing and probably false communiqué from a group calling itself the Tawheed and Jihad Brigades, claiming that Johnston had been executed--revenge, it intimated, for the fate of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.


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