GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Two FOX News journalists were released by their kidnappers Sunday, nearly two weeks after they were taken hostage in the Gaza Strip.The report also says that a video was released not long before they were freed, in which the two were clad in Arabic robes and declaring their new Muslim faith.
The freeing of FOX correspondent Steve Centanni, 60, and cameraman Olaf Wiig, 36, ends the longest-running drama involving foreign hostages in Gaza.
The two journalists were dropped off at Gaza City's Beach Hotel by Palestinian security officials. A tearful Centanni embraced a Palestinian journalist briefly as he entered, then rushed upstairs as Wiig followed.
Centanni, in a phone interview shortly after his release, said "I'm fine. I'm just so happy to be free."
He said he was so emotional because he was out and alive.
"There were times when I thought 'I'm dead,' and I'm not," Centanni said. "I'm fine. I'm so very happy."
According to Centanni, that did happen, but it wasn't their idea:
"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, but it was something we felt we had to do because they had the guns, and we didn't know what the hell was going on."Maybe they didn't...but the PA says THEY did:
Folks, I may be wrong, but it's looking to me like this was all for braggin' rights.
The journalists had been seized in Gaza City on Aug. 14 by a previously unknown group calling itself the Holy Jihad Brigades. However, senior Palestinian security officials said Sunday the name was a front for local militants, and that Palestinian authorities had known the identity of the kidnappers from the start.
Haniyeh also confirmed the kidnappers were from Gaza, squashing speculation that Al Qaeda had directed the abduction. "The kidnappers have no link to Al Qaeda or any other organization or faction," Haniyeh said. "Al Qaeda as an organization does not exist in the Gaza Strip."
It remained unclear whether the kidnappers had ties to Hamas or the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a violent offshoot of Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement. A third group, the Popular Resistance Committees, claimed Sunday it had helped mediate the release of the journalists.
Whatever. Screw it. They're free, and they're healthy. So 'scuse me whilst I say it again...
Read all about it, at Outside The Beltway, bRight and Early, Wizbang, and Right Truth.