Sky News reports that a group of Salafists inspired by Al-Qaida just kidnapped an Italian journalist in Gaza. Their video (via Gaza Times) demands that Hamas release their “holy warriors” from detention.
The video identifies the Italian as Vittorio Arrigoni.
This abduction isn’t as straightforward as the Alan Johnston affair. That’s because the International Solidarity Movement says Arrigoni is one of its activists. AP writes:
Huwaida Arraf, co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement, said the abducted man in the video appeared to be one of its activists. She asked that his name be withheld.
ISM operates in the West Bank and Gaza and is known for trying to prevent the Israeli military from carrying out its missions. Arraf said this activist has been going in and out of Gaza for more than two years.
That would certainly describe Arrigoni, who apparently traveled to Gaza on one of the earlier ship convoys. Here’s one video I found describing him as an “activist.” Even if you can’t read Italian, the images on his Arrigoni’s Facebook page get his message across.
I don’t know who Arrigoni works for, but when you mention ISM and journalist, two people I think of are Lauren Booth and Ewa Jasiewicz. Both would rather make news than cover it.
Booth’s well-known for being trapped in Gaza after spearheading the first attempt to break the blockade of Gaza (for which she was namd Dishonest Reporter of 2008). And Jasiewicz was deported from Israel in 2004 after she abused her press card to interfere with IDF counter-terror work.
There’s a lot of irony that Salafists kidnapped a foreign supporter of the Palestinian cause in order to score points with Hamas. The prospect of Hamas refusing to negotiate a prisoner swap with terrorists – even as they still deny Red Cross access to hold Gilad Shalit and play mind-games to pressure Israel – is even more so.
But irony aside, let’s hope Arrigoni emerges from captivity quickly and safely.