BREAKING: Previously Unknown 'Holy Jihad Brigades' Claims Centanni Kidnapping, Demands Release of Muslim Prisoners

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Aug 23, 2006 9:13 AM

Heard on Fox: Al-Jazeera is reporting that the Holy Jihad Brigades is claiming responsibility for the Centanni/Wiig kidnappings.

Group gives 72-hour deadline for the release of Muslim prisoners in the United States, but doesn't name those prisoners.

The group is previously unheard of. Gee, I suppose they had to start a whole new set-apart terrorist chapter to kidnap reporters from a news organization that has "deliberately set itself apart from other news organizations." Jerks.

Update: The AP story.

TV Newser is watching the story.

From yesterday, Michelle started a big ol' blog burst.

Update: Reuters gets the Holy Jihad Brigades statement.

"Release what you have, and we will release what we have," the "Holy Jihad Brigades" said in a statement obtained by Reuters...

"If you implement our conditions we will implement our promise, otherwise you will have to wait," the statement said.

There has been no word on the condition of the journalists since they were seized.

Until Wednesday's statement, which contained verses from the Koran, no one had claimed responsibility for the abduction, which is now the longest-lasting in Gaza for more than a year.

Update: Al-Jazeera has been given a tape of Centanni and Wiig, will air on Fox soon... Jennifer Griffin has seen the video, they are safe and in good health, they speak to their families, say they've been treated well.

Leaflet released, English translation: "Muslims have been oppressed around the world. The Arab world is doing what the American government would like them to do. The Arab world has sold out the Palestinian cause. All non-believers should become believers. You raped us. You raped our nation."

Update 9:51am: Fox's Jennifer Griffin reads a transcript of the video.

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.

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.

Allah will have the video shortly.

Update 11:01am: Ms. Underestimated has the full transcript of the jihadi kidnapper, faxed press release on this.

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.

The religion of subduedness, of course.

Update 12:37pm: U.S. government issues a statement.

"We hope the kidnappers will release Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig at the earliest opportunity. It is the position of the U.S. government that we do not make concessions to terrorists," Micaela Schweitzer-Bluhm, spokeswoman for the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, said.

Rusty suspects al-Qaeda, and is not optimistic about it:

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.

Update 2:32pm: Fox News VP John Moody released a statement, grabbed it off the Fox broadcast.

"We’re encouraged that our colleagues appear to be are alive and well in the video released today. We trust that the abductors understand that they are responsible for Steve and Olaf's welfare and safe return. We ask for their immediate release."

More on the al-Qaeda question:

Terrorism analysts say al Qaeda may have conducted their first operation in Gaza. This after a video was released today of the two Fox News journalists held hostage since August 14 along with an accompanying written statement issued by a previously unknown group calling itself the "Holy Jihad Brigades."

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...

"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."

Also unusual for Palestinian militants was the extraordinary demand issued in the statement that "Muslim prisoners in U.S. jails be released within three days" 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.

Keep praying. Hard.