JPost.com Staff, THE JERUSALEM POST Jul. 4, 2007
The kidnappers of Cpl. Gilad Schalit have transferred him to the custody of Hamas, Abu Mutfana - a leader in the Army of Islam - said Wednesday in an interview broadcast on Channel 10.
Abu Mutfana, who spoke on television with his face obscured by a kaffiyeh, called on Schalit's family to "pressure your government to release the Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim prisoners held in Israeli prisons."
Otherwise, Abu Mutfana warned, the Army of Islam "would take action."
Abu Mutfana stressed that the cross-border raid near Kerem Shalom in which Schalit was abducted over a year ago had been carefully planned by his group in cooperation with the Aksa Martyrs Brigades and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
The Army of Islam, Abu Mutfana said, had been holding Schalit but had handed him over to Hamas because they had been "busy with other things." However, a Channel 10 commentator said that Hamas had offered Abu Mutfana's group money and weapons in exchange for Schalit.
Overnight Tuesday, the Army of Islam released BBC correspondent Alan Johnston, who was kidnapped in Gaza nearly four months ago.In response to Johnston's release, Abu Mutfada told Hamas that their victory
celebrations wouldn't last long.
"You're banging your drums as if Alan Johnston were a soldier in the Army of Islam that you freed from the American tyrants' jails," he said.
Abu Mutfada said that the Army of Islam had freed Johnston of its own free will, and not because of pressure to do so by Hamas.
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