H/T Drudge for this:
Fox News’s breaking report gets top billing here.
**Scroll to bottom for updates**
According to the BBC, a militant group in Gaza has claimed they’re responsible for the kidnapping of Fox News’ Steve Centanni and freelance cameraman, Olaf Wiig. The story:
Wednesday, 23 August 2006, 13:48 GMT 14:48 UK
Gaza militants claim Fox kidnap
Anita McNaught, wife of kidnapped journalist Olaf Wiig Freelance cameraman Olaf Wiig was kidnapped last week A previously unknown militant group has said it kidnapped two journalists seized nine days ago in the Gaza Strip.
A fax from the “Holy Jihad Brigades” to news agencies demanded the US release “Muslim prisoners” within 72 hours.
A Palestinian news agency said it had obtained footage showing the two Fox News journalists sitting on the floor. The agency said they were safe
Olaf Wiig, 36, of New Zealand, and Steve Centanni, 60, from the US, were kidnapped in Gaza City on 14 August.
“Release what you have, and we will release what we have,” the fax read.
There had been no word on Mr Centanni and his colleague. The group did not say what would happen to the two journalists if the United States did not meet their demand.
“If you implement our conditions we will implement our promise, otherwise you will have to wait,” the statement said.
The Palestinian news agency, Ramattan, said the journalists were heard saying in the video that they were in good hands and appealed to their governments to respond to the kidnappers’ demands.
There had been no word on the journalists since they were seized from their TV vehicle near the Palestinian security services’ headquarters in Gaza City.
The crew’s Palestinian driver told security officials their car had been stopped in Gaza City on Monday evening.
He said masked gunmen ordered the men into another vehicle and they were driven away.
Breitbart has the AP report here:
In the video, Steve Centanni, 60, of the San Francisco area, and cameraman Olaf Wiig, 36, of New Zealand, appeared to be in good health, seated on the floor in sweat suits against a black background. No armed men were shown.
“Our captors are treating us well,” Centanni said, adding that they had access to clean water, showers, bathrooms, food and clothing.
“So, just want to let you know I am here and alive and give my love to my family and friends and ask to do anything you can to try to help us get out of here,” he added.
Wiig called for help to get them freed.
“If you could apply any pressure on the local government here in Gaza and the West Bank, that would be much appreciated by Steve and myself,” Wiig said.
It was the first time Centanni and Wiig have been seen since they were kidnapped Aug. 14 near the Palestinian security services headquarters in Gaza City. The video was shown to an Associated Press correspondent in Gaza and also was broadcast by Al-Jazeera.
Although Palestinian militant groups have often seized foreigners, including members of the media, this is the longest any have been held.
The news agency, Ramattan, reported that the Palestinian group, the Holy Jihad Brigades, had demanded in a statement that Muslim prisoners in U.S. jails be released within three days in exchange for Centanni and Wiig. The group did not say what would happen if the deadline passed unanswered, Ramattan reported.
“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.
“If you implement and meet our condition, we will fulfill our promise. If not, wait, and we are going to wait,” the statement said.
Earlier, Ramattan said the kidnappers had demanded the release of Palestinian prisoners.
More than two dozen foreigners have been seized in the past two years, and they usually follow a clear pattern. Militants boast of their success within hours, followed by demands for jobs or freedom for jailed relatives, then brief negotiations and finally the release of those abducted, often the same day.
But this kidnapping has not followed that pattern. Until Wednesday, no group had claimed responsibility, and the whereabouts of the Fox News journalists remained a mystery despite emotional appeals from family members.
Palestinian government officials, including Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, have called for the release of Centanni and Wiig.
(sorry if the stories above are duplicates or have similar content as each other but I wanted to get them out there quickly when this was breaking- Ms. U)
Please pray for them… they need your prayers now more than ever.
Allah over at HotAir has the AP video.
More bloggers: Rusty Shackleford, Sister Toldjah, Mary Katherine Ham, The Political Pit Bull, Assorted Babble by Suzie, Wizbang, Morning Coffee Â» Blog Archive Â» New Group Claims Fox News Kidnappings, Hyscience, and Freedoms Zone. I’m sure there will be more to follow.
Steve Centanni: We have been taken capture in Gaza and are being held prisoners here and we are in good condition and alive and well and in fairly good health; [We have] water and food everyday, access to the bathroom, shower and clean clothes. And our captors are treating us well. So I just want to let your know I am here alive and give my love to my family and friends and ask you to do anything you can to try to help us get out of here. … We love you all and we want to go home hope to see you soon.”
“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”
Your “thanks” do NOT go to “God,” you murdering brutal assholes! Your “God” is no God at all. God is merciful and peaceful – not vengeful and blood-thirsty!
Michelle Malkin is on this, too.
Not surprising, but CNN’s breaking story as of 11:19am EST is about Lieberman getting enough votes to run as an independent, and neither NBC nor MSNBC as of this writing (11:53am EST) have NO breaking news of anything. ABC and CBS have it. But I’m not surprised by any of this. Don’t know what’s going on over the DhimmiU, because my corporate office has their site banned for ‘offensive content.’
Rusty Shackleford is keeping us up to speed. Here’s the latest from his site:
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.
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 Iraqâ€¦
â€œThe rhetoric is vintage al Qaeda,â€ said Fawaz Gerges, an ABC News Consultant and professor of Middle Eastern Studies at Sarah Lawrence College. â€œThis is consistent with what we have seen in Iraq and other places.â€â€¦
Also unusual for Palestinian militants was the extraordinary demand issued in the statement that â€œMuslim prisoners in U.S. jails be released within three daysâ€ in exchange for the two Fox journalists. Targeting journalists from an American news organization and making demands on the United States rather than Israel is not typical for Palestinian groups.
People I just beg that you continue to pray. I want them to come home soon and unharmed.
***UPDATE WITH VIDEO FROM FOX***
The first Fox anchor to fully break the near-total silence, Brit Hume, tonight had a very good piece on this. He spoke with Jennifer Griffin, who’s been in Gaza working with the PA, Olaf’s wife, and the Palestinian Journalists Society, on the release of Steve and Olaf.
From what I gather by the picture above, there has been a steady protest for their release, and Jennifer and Anita McKnaught (Olaf’s wife) have been participating in that, along with the PJS.
Fox VP Moody released his statement earlier:
Watch the Special Report video here.
Later in the evening the AP has more. An eerie mirror of Rusty’s previous ominous feelings that this is not Hamas or a PA group – but an outside group – perhaps AlQaeda? Portions of the late-breaking story here:
Local militant groups routinely try to limit the conflict to a fight between Palestinians and Israel, fearing they could otherwise cause a backlash against the Palestinian cause. Major militant groups, including the ruling Hamas movement, have all condemned the kidnapping and called for the journalists’ release.
Militants with ties to Hamas have been involved in kidnappings in the past, including the June 25 abduction of an Israeli soldier, aimed at winning the release of Palestinians from Israeli jails.
However, Ghazi Hamad, a spokesman for the government, criticized the kidnapping of the Fox journalists. “Our battle is against the occupation inside the Palestinian territories, and we are not taking our battle outside the Palestinian land,” he said.
Boaz Ganor, an Israeli counterterrorism expert, said the absence of Palestinian demands in the statement made it “much more likely that this is part of an outside group.” Ganor said that since Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, Islamic militants with direct or indirect links to al-Qaida have sneaked into the territory. “They’re now well-rooted in the Gaza Strip,” he said.
Over the past two years, Palestinian militants have seized more than two dozen foreigners, usually to settle personal scores, but released them unharmed within hours. The holding of the Fox journalists is the longest so far.
A Palestinian security official close to the investigation said there were several signs that an outside group was behind the kidnapping. He noted the professional quality of the video and the absence of flags, masked gunmen or logos typically seen in videos made by local groups.
But the official said it was possible that local militants were trying to divert attention. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter with the press.
Palestinian security officials said they were analyzing the video and even turned to Islamic experts for help in deciphering the poetic verses from the Quran, the Muslim holy book, in the statement.
Again, please continue to pray for Steve and Olaf.
Jesse Jackson is now going to go over and broker their release? Oh, boy! From the Post Chronicle:
Fox reporters kidnapped nearly 10 days ago were permitted to speak, via videotape, to their concerned families and the world recently. Now, Fox reporter Steve Centanni and photographer Olaf Wiig may have a knight-in-shining-armor.
In a CNN interview, Jesse Jackson said he was going to do everything in his power to go to the Middle East and try to secure their rescue.
The one area in which Jesse Jackson has likely found his best calling, and truly unique success, is in gaining the release of hostages.
But in this case, the dangers posed are new, especially for a “man of religion”, as is the Reverend Jackson, and the Holy Jihad Brigades terrorist group, never before identified but claiming responsibility for the August 14th kidnapping in Gaza, are an unknown and possibly highly unstable entity.
There are deep fears that the new terrorist group may be out to “prove their bones” and show other Muslim groups they are not afraid to defy the great United States by causing the death of the two innocent men. The interjection of Rev. Jackson may be the riskiest intervention of his lifetime.
Knight in shining armor????? The riskiest intervention of YOUR lifetime??? I’m sorry Jesse, but PLEASE stay out of this one! You will most certainly FFFF it up!