Upcoming GIMP 2.4 has a special tool for doing it - foreground selection 
tool. 2.4 can be tried now as GIMP 2.3.19.
Also you will have to correct the obtained selection with freehand 
selection tool, maybe quick mask, intellect  scissors or other selection 
Other way is to select it initially by color and often use other 
selection tools  to add (with Shift) or subtract (with Ctrl)  some pieces.
Some tutorials:

> Hello,
> I'm new too Gimp please don't shoot me for asking this question. I'm 
> looking for an easy way
> to process about 20 pictures I shot with my DSLR. What I want to do is 
> remove the background and only preserve the object in front. Is there 
> anything in Gimp to do what KnockOut from corel does?
> Is there a tutorial on this somewhere?

With respect
Alexander Rabtchevich

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