Breaking: Pali PM says Centanni could be released “within hours” (Update: Unconditional?) (Update: Debka fingers Hamas) (Update:: FREED)

posted at 2:54 pm on August 26, 2006 by Allahpundit

He’s putting a bit of prestige on the line by saying this, so I doubt he’s blowing smoke. Fingers crossed.

More good news: he claims that “those behind the abduction pledged before the Palestinian government not to harm the captives.” Obviously, then, they know who the kidnappers are now.

Check back for updates. Looking for more now.

Update: The Associated Press:

“We hope that this issue is going to be over in the coming hours,” Haniyeh, a Hamas leader, said in a statement. “There are promises that the journalists will not be harmed. I hope that this case is going to be ended and solved in a way that reflects that the Palestinians respect their guests.”

Haniyeh did not elaborate.

Interior Ministry spokesman Khaled Abu Hilal said authorities were exerting efforts to release the journalists, but were not negotiating with the kidnappers.

Update: More good news via JPost: Haniyeh says he was promised the two will be released unharmed and unconditionally.

Update: Yesterday I said, “If Hamas benefits from negotiating their release, doesn’t the prime suspect in the kidnapping become … Hamas?” And was quickly taken to task for it in the comments.

Well, guess who’s backing up the big A on this one. Yup. Which means … I’m almost certainly wrong. But here’s their theory anyway, for the record:

The Hamas team which abducted Israeli soldier Gilead Shalit on June 25 sought to ease the pressure for his release by staging a more spectacular snatch. For this reason, they hired Zakaria Dughmush and his masked men to capture the two Fox News journalists in Gaza City on Aug. 14…

Our counter-terror sources reveal that Dughmush was handed the contract to kidnap one or more Americans by the abductors of the Israeli soldier [Gilad Shalit] when their efforts to negotiate a prisoner swap broke down. Hamas ended up refusing the quid pro quo of a promise by Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, already deposited with Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, to release 600 Palestinian prisoners. They held out for a simultaneous trade and then withdrew from the talks.

They turned to Dughmush when pressure built up to end the episode from many quarters, including the Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya, the Egyptians and the head of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas.

Because neither set of abductors wanted Palestinians branded as kidnappers of Americans, they invented a group no one had heard of, calling it the Brigades of the Holy Jihad.

Update (Michelle): 8am Eastern. Journalists freed and forced to convert to Islam at gunpoint. More here.


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So they’re letting him with nothing gained? Or did Fox quietly send some cash their way in exchange for their release?

Bellicose Muse on August 26, 2006 at 3:00 PM

Good news, thanks.
Interesting follow up for sure.

shooter on August 26, 2006 at 3:05 PM

Well I too wonder if Fox didn’t send some $$ their way as well. Probably lots of $$$. I remember when it first happened O’Reilly said something about they were negotiating something but said it really quick. I hope they will be fine.

Catie96706 on August 26, 2006 at 3:19 PM

Some $$$ printed with disappearing ink. That would be cool.

mikeyboss on August 26, 2006 at 3:23 PM

Some $$$s with traceability would be even more cool.

In the end it will turn out that some group who’s family lost the latest garbage collection contract will be the culprits. Yes, something that simple can affect that government.

On the “guest” reference – very progressive!

Entelechy on August 26, 2006 at 3:29 PM

Does that mean Fox funds terror!?

JamesVersusEveryone on August 26, 2006 at 3:34 PM

you know, this is just a thought – but i was wondering why we haven’t been bombarded with press coverage of this. I think the press played it down as a way to not give the kidnappers a forum. By NOT covering the kidnapping, the terrorists weren’t able to get their message across. I’m really tired today, so I hope that makes sense.

I’ll keep my fingers crossed that they come home safely.

pullingmyhairout on August 26, 2006 at 3:39 PM

What about an inside job? Hamas gins up a group to go “off the reservation” by kidnapping Western journalists; Hamas is the hero who convinces this group, which nobody’s ever heard of before, to let them go.

Is that just dumb?

Anwyn on August 26, 2006 at 4:40 PM

Let’s pray it is true. I hope if and when they are rleased, they get to confront some of the MSM reporters that were saying their abduction was warranted.

gary on August 26, 2006 at 4:41 PM

I’ll believe it when I see it. But then we’ll have to endure countless editorials praising the release as sure evidence of the “moderation” of Hamas. Isn’t it time to get back to the table to revive the “peace process?”

eagles5 on August 26, 2006 at 6:35 PM

I think the press played it down as a way to not give the kidnappers a forum.

They never play it down any other time, but I could see them doing it when it was one of their own at risk (albeit people working for Fox News, who I expect most in the MSM look down their noses at). The media does tend to have a different set of rules when it’s their own on the line.

I’ll believe it when I see it. But then we’ll have to endure countless editorials praising the release as sure evidence of the “moderation” of Hamas.

Yep. The NYT will probably even have George Galloway write an op-ed in praise of Hamas.

Bellicose Muse on August 26, 2006 at 6:46 PM

Yesterday I said, “If Hamas benefits from negotiating their release, doesn’t the prime suspect in the kidnapping become … Hamas?” And was quickly taken to task for it in the comments.

Gaah. My punishment for not reading each and every article here: unwittingly parrotting Allah. Sorry.

Anwyn on August 26, 2006 at 7:45 PM

Not that I believe every word they say…

However, Hamas officials told The Jerusalem Post that the kidnappers belonged to one of the armed wings of PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party.

Entelechy on August 26, 2006 at 8:37 PM

Hamas speaks to the JP?

Anwyn on August 26, 2006 at 9:40 PM

What great news. “AP”. The Debka seems very credible and the most important thing that I noticed when I first saw the released vid of Steve and Oliff was no hooded a-holes with guns. That was a postive sign. Without jumping out too far ahead here, it would seem based on this new info that a ‘con’ was set up as you opined by Hamas BUT the big Abbas didn’t want to jepordize all those ‘Millions’ being sent by the US to the PA. What a freeking game. IMHO some high priced gambling.

auspatriotman on August 26, 2006 at 11:27 PM

P.S. Hopefully anticipated with so many Steve and Olafs happy ending return, it should be interesting to hear how Steve may report this one. He is prety high profile.

auspatriotman on August 26, 2006 at 11:29 PM

The plot thickens… breaking news… the journalists are due to be released as soon as “early Sunday”, and they’ve also Converted To Islam On Video. I can’t find it nor have I seen the video yet, but it’s supposedly playing on Fox via a satellite feed. Anyway, it will be on TV for awhile I imagine.

Poor bastards. I can’t imagine they “converted to Islam” voluntarily, on video. But if they did so sincerely, more power to them I guess.

…I’m a wee bit angry about this if it’s true :/

SilverStar830 on August 27, 2006 at 4:50 AM

What the heck happened? I posted some breaking news but the previous comment didn’t show up… argh.

Breaking News: Kidnapped Fox journalists convert to Islam on just released video

SilverStar830 on August 27, 2006 at 5:04 AM

Blah… I’m sure AllahP will update the thread with the video when it’s available. I can’t find it online yet.

I can’t imagine that the poor bastards voluntarily converted to Islam on video. If they did, and were sincere, more power to them. If they did, just to survive, I wonder if Fox will give them the airtime to tell the truth about what really happened. What a mess for those guys… ugh.

…I’m a wee bit angry about this if it’s true :/

SilverStar830 on August 27, 2006 at 5:07 AM

Ditto to Silver Star – in the new video the captors state that Centanni and Wiig have liberated themselves by converting to islam…..

bluestarchronicles on August 27, 2006 at 5:08 AM

More on what silverstar and bluestar mentioned:
http://www.rightwinged.com/2006/08/breaking_new_hostage_video_shows_journalists.html

RightWinged on August 27, 2006 at 5:25 AM

Fox News Alert: Kidnapped Fox Journalists Have Been Released! … nothing on the interweb yet though

SilverStar830 on August 27, 2006 at 5:31 AM

The story is breaking pretty much everywhere… and apparently they aren’t Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig anymore. They are now known as “Halec” and “Yako”. Their Muslim names may be misquoted by the press for now, but I’m wondering if their wives will have to wear burkhas after today.

SilverStar830 on August 27, 2006 at 6:21 AM

I’ve got a couple links on the release as well… Also just listened to Centanni talking to Shep live on FNC (also played on CNN) about how they were forced to convert to Islam

RightWinged on August 27, 2006 at 6:32 AM

Shep’s interview of Steve was incredible! I was amazed that Steve admitted so quickly after release that they were forced at gun point to “convert” to Islam. He said althrough he respects Islam he only did it to stay on the good side of his kidnapper. Amazing! Are prayers have been answered.

ordi on August 27, 2006 at 6:36 AM

I was watching earlier right after they were released. They cut from Shep during his live feed and showed the first brief video clip of Halec Steve and Yako Olaf walking into their hotel after being freed. They cut back to Shep… and he was wiping tears from his eyes.

awwwwwwww :)

SilverStar830 on August 27, 2006 at 6:40 AM

I wiped a few tears myself this AM. I can’t imagine what the ordeal was like or how it would be to be in the scary situation.

ordi on August 27, 2006 at 6:55 AM

*whew!*

Tanya on August 27, 2006 at 8:22 AM

Thank God! Nothing at all could ever make me set foot in that area of the world.

Ellen on August 27, 2006 at 8:26 AM

Thank God they’re ok, now get them to a church where they can be cleansed of their islamic filth.

Which begs the question: In that situation, do you lie and say “I convert” or do you say “F. U., I will not convert, you may kill me now.”?

I’m pretty sure the Lord will understand if you break the old “Thou shalt not lie” commandment to prevent havin’ your head sawed off by raving islamic lunatics.

I like to think I’d tell ‘em “No, YOU convert! Convert to Christianity and put the gun down, then I’m gonna kick your f@$&ing ass, and then I will forgive you in the name of Jesus.”

But I’m pretty sure that in real life, with a gun to my head, thinkin’ of my wife a future daughter, I’d tell ‘em anything they wanna hear. But as soon as I got home I’d be runnin’ to the church to have that layer of islamic scum scraped off of my spirit and reaffirm my belief in Christ. Mrs. 737 and BabyGirl 737 will NEVER wear a burqa!

Tony737 on August 27, 2006 at 8:47 AM

Thank God they’re ok, now get them to a church where they can be cleansed of their islamic filth.

Which begs the question: In that situation, do you lie and say “I convert” or do you say “F. U., I will not convert, you may kill me now.”?

I’m pretty sure the Lord will understand if you break the old “Thou shalt not lie” commandment to prevent havin’ your head sawed off by raving islamic lunatics.

I like to think I’d tell ‘em “No, YOU convert! Convert to Christianity and put the gun down, then I’m gonna kick your f@$&ing ass, and then I will forgive you in the name of Jesus.”

But I’m pretty sure that in real life, with a gun to my head, thinkin’ of my wife a future daughter, I’d tell ‘em anything they wanna hear. But as soon as I got home I’d be runnin’ to the church to have that layer of islamic scum scraped off of my spirit and reaffirm my belief in Christ. Mrs. 737 and BabyGirl 737 will NEVER wear a burqa!

That’s why we need to keep the Pubbies in office!

Condi ’08!

Tony737 on August 27, 2006 at 8:47 AM

Allah, I do believe you scooped DRUDGE. When I looked, it wasn’t there. I had to laugh. Shoot me.

james hooker on August 27, 2006 at 8:54 AM

But, boy, does the Stockholm Syndrome’s incubation time decrease.

“We were forced to convert to Islam at gunpoint,” Centanni told FOX News. “Don’t get me wrong here. I have the highest respect for Islam, and I learned a lot of good things about it.”

So he learned a lot of good things about Islam while being in captivity of Muslims who demand he convert, or else.

Don’t get me wrong here. I have the highest respect for journalists who work under such conditions.

Niko on August 27, 2006 at 9:07 AM

Amen, Tony737…. I couldn’t have said it better.

MsUnderestimated on August 27, 2006 at 10:11 AM

Glad to hear they were released!

Not glad to hear of their forced conversion. Is it not true that “reversion” to their ancestral religion (Christianity?) would constitute apostasy, no matter how they were forced to convert, and thus subjects them to the death penalty?

RD on August 27, 2006 at 10:12 AM

Hey, everybody… I have 3 videos up at my site:

http://www.msunderestimated.com/2006/08/27/breaking-news-free-at-last-centanni-wiig-released-video/

The initial news, the press conference, and the call to Shep.

I shed a tear or ten today myself, too.

MsUnderestimated on August 27, 2006 at 10:13 AM

“We were forced to convert to Islam at gunpoint,” Centanni told FOX News. “Don’t get me wrong here. I have the highest respect for Islam, and I learned a lot of good things about it.”

How much of it actually true, I wonder…

RD on August 27, 2006 at 10:29 AM

I apologize for the repeated post, I’m not sure how that even happened.

Tony737 on August 27, 2006 at 11:46 AM

I’ve deliberately held back my comments on this until they were released.

I remember when Bob Simon of CBS news flipped off the US Military’s warning to stay away from the Iraq/Saudi border in 1991, and then tried to sneak into Iraq.

He was captured, imprisoned, and tortured, but was released as part of the cease fire.

My first thought was that I was glad he was safe. My second thought was “what an asshole” for being a fool by disobeying sensible instructions and needlessly risking his life while at the same time adding to the burden of the military who had to go looking for him.

BTW, don’t forget that Simon was part of the 60 Minutes faked “Paliwood” production about the Israeli police station that was fisked recently here in Hot Air.

Going into a war zone as a reporter is dangerous. More so if you are an American or work for an American news company. I consider these two men to be brave and dedicated.

But I consider them to be a bit foolish as well. Foolish, because they forgot (1) how vulnerable they are and (2) what a tempting prize they were.

WE may consider the media to be “non-combattants” but it is clear that the Palis and the Islamists do NOT. They consider them to be pawns to be played — to be used and “expended” if necessary — in their game againt the west.

Remember, the broadcasted “terms” of their release was that ALL MUSLIMS IN AMERICAN PRISONS HAD TO BE RELEASED WITHIN 72 HOURS or they’d be killed.

If you believe that this unknown “group” was really independent of Hamas, I’ve got a bridge to sell you. This whole episode was a blatant attempt to ingratiate Hamas to Americans. Remember, we cut off US funding to Hamas. So what better way to show what “good guys” Hamas are by helping getting our reporters back — even though they took them in the first place.

The whole thing was transparent manipulation and nothing else. And these two guys were set up to be the fall guys.

If I were Rupert Murdoch, I’d remove all News Corp employees from the middle east. Then I’d tell my entire news and entertainment empire to stop painting Islamic terrorists neutrally or favorably, but to tell it like it is: Hamas, Hezollah, Iran, Syria are bloodthirsty monsters who are evil and who must be destroyed down to the last man.

I’d show them what “bad press relations” is all about.

Further, I’d make sure that the CEO’s of every other American news organization did the same. That’s how you protect reporters in the field. You make the “game” too costly for the terrorists by taking away their most potent weapon — the American media.

georgej on August 27, 2006 at 4:38 PM