Last updated September 2007
Alan Johnston was born in Lindi, Tanzania on 17 May 1962.
He was educated at Dollar Academy in Dollar in Scotland. He has an MA in English and Politics from Dundee University and a diploma in Journalism Studies from the University of Wales in Cardiff.
He joined the BBC in 1991 as a Sub-Editor in the BBC World Service Newsroom before becoming the BBC's Correspondent in Tashkent from 1993 to 1995.
In this post he reported on an area of Central Asia stretching from Mongolia to the Caspian Sea. This was during a period when the region was emerging from the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Later, in 1997, he began a year-long spell as the BBC's Kabul Correspondent. At the time the Taleban movement was fighting to try to take complete control of Afghanistan.
He returned to London and the BBC World Service to be a programme editor of The World Today. He also made a series of documentaries on issues in Afghanistan and the Middle East, before becoming a general reporter in the BBC World Service Newsroom.
Alan started a three-year posting to Gaza as BBC Correspondent there in April 2004. He reported for all BBC radio and television outlets on the violence of the second Palestinian Intifada, the death of Yasser Arafat, the Israeli army's withdrawal from Gaza and the rise to power of the Hamas movement.
Just two weeks before his contract was due to end, Alan was kidnapped and held for nearly four months by a Jihadi organisation called the Army of Islam. The BBC mounted a major international campaign to try to secure his release, and he was eventually freed unharmed on 4 July 2007.