Guardian Unlimited OnLine July 4 2007
'The worst days of my life ... like being buried alive' July 4 2007
Alan Johnston, the BBC reporter held captive since March, this morning told of his ordeal at the hands of kidnappers he described as 'dangerous and unpredictable'
Conal Urquhart in Gaza City
Alan Johnston, the BBC reporter held captive since March, described this morning how his kidnappers threatened to kill him and led him outside in handcuffs and a hood.
Speaking at the office of Ismail Haniyeh, the disputed Palestinian prime minister, Johnston told of his three-month ordeal at the hands of kidnappers who were "unpredictable and dangerous" and would be happy, he felt, to watch television as he died.
Johnston was freed just after 3am (1am BST) following intense negotiations to avert a military confrontation between the forces of Hamas and his kidnappers, the Dogmush family, and their militia, the Army of Islam.
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Times OnLine July 4 2007
‘Those who cure you will kill you’ July 4 2007
Deborah Haynes in Baghdad, Michael Evans and Adam Fresco
An al-Qaeda leader in Iraq boasted before last week’s failed bombings in London and Glasgow that his group was planning to attack British targets and that “those who cure you will kill you”, The Times has learnt.
The warning was delivered to Canon Andrew White, a senior British cleric working in Baghdad, and could be highly significant as the eight Muslims arrested in the wake of the failed plot are all members of the medical profession.
Canon White told The Times that he had passed the general warning, but not the specific words, to a senior official at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in mid-April. A Foreign Office spokesman said last night that it was forwarding the actual words to the Metropolitan Police.
The Times also learnt yesterday that one of the suspects, the Iraqi doctor Bilal Abdulla, had links to radical Islamic groups, and that several of the eight suspects have now been linked to known extremist radicals listed on MI5’s data base. Canon White, who runs Baghdad’s only Anglican parish, said that he met the al-Qaeda leader on the fringes of a meeting about religious reconciliation held in Amman, the Jordanian capital.
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Independent OnLine 'Indy' News July 4 2007
BBC reporter Alan Johnston set free after 114 day July 4 2007
By Beverley Rouse, PA
Published: 04 July 2007
The kidnapped British journalist Alan Johnston was freed today after almost four months.
The BBC reporter was released from his captors in Gaza in the early hours of this morning and said he felt "the most unimaginable relief".
A British consular official later said that Mr Johnston had set off in a convoy for Jerusalem in the company of British diplomats.
Mr Johnston was the only Western reporter permanently based in Gaza and had been working there for three years when he went missing on 12 March.
Mr Johnston, 45, told the BBC: "It's just the most fantastic thing to be free. It was an appalling experience, being kidnapped, occasionally quite terrifying and I didn't know when it was going to end.
"It became hard to imagine normal life. I dreamed several times of being free but always woke up in that room. It's incredibly good to be out."
He later told a press conference in Gaza: "It's hard to believe that I'm not going to wake up in a minute in that room again."
Mr Johnston said he had been able to listen to the radio after his first two weeks in captivity and heard messages of support.
"It gave me a psychological boost," he added.
"It was amazing to be lying in solitary confinement and hear people from Nigeria, Malaysia or friends from London, colleagues sending messages of support."
At the press conference, Mr Johnston said his kidnappers had initially told him they did not intend to kill or torture him but at 3am on the first night they covered his face with a hood and handcuffed him.
He added: "They were often rude and unpleasant. They did threaten my life a number of times. There was one 24 hour period when they seemed to get very angry and chained me up but that only lasted 24 hours.
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BBC OnLine News July 4 2007
BBC's Gaza correspondent released July 4 2007
BBC correspondent Alan Johnston has been released by kidnappers in the Gaza Strip after 114 days in captivity.
Mr Johnston, 45, was handed over to armed men in Gaza City. He said his ordeal was like "being buried alive" but it was "fantastic" to be free.
And he described how he had been unable to see the sun for three months, and had once been chained for 24 hours.
Rallies worldwide had called for Mr Johnston's release. An online petition was signed by some 200,000 people.
Mr Johnston's father Graham said he and his wife were "overjoyed" at their son's release.
"It's been 114 days of a living nightmare," he said.
UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown also expressed his joy at Mr Johnston's release.
BBC OnLine Full Story
BBC OnLine History July 4 2007
July 4 1976: Israelis rescue Entebbe hostages
Israeli commandos have rescued 100 hostages, mostly Israelis or Jews, held by pro-Palestinian hijackers at Entebbe airport in Uganda.
At about 0100 local time (2200GMT), Ugandan soldiers and the hijackers were taken completely by surprise when three Hercules transport planes landed after a 2,500-mile trip from Israel.
About 200 elite troops ran out and stormed the airport building.
During a 35-minute battle, 20 Ugandan soldiers and all seven hijackers died along with three hostages.
The leader of the assault force, Lieutenant Colonel Yonatan Netanyahu, was also shot dead by a Ugandan sentry.
The Israelis destroyed 11 Russian-built MiG fighters, which amounted to a quarter of Uganda's air force.
The surviving hostages were then flown to Israel with a stopover in Nairobi, Kenya, where some of the injured were treated by Israeli doctors and at least two transferred to hospital there.
BBC OnLine Full Story