Barbaric Islamic murderers from Al-Qaeda kill American civilian, cut his head off

Fox News (www.foxnews.com) reports that Islamic murderers from Al-Qaeda have captured and killed an American contractor in Saudi Arabia:

The body of American hostage Paul M. Johnson Jr., apparently beheaded by an Al Qaeda-linked Saudi militant group, was found Friday just outside the Saudi Arabian capital. The discovery came soon after a Web site posted pictures of his death.

[...] Earlier Friday, the organization Search for International Terrorist Entities (SITE) confirmed to Fox News that a message on the Al Rifaq Web site said Johnson's body was found in Al Muwannisiyya, east of Riyadh.

The news came hours after gruesome photographs of Johnson with his head cut off were posted on an Al Qaeda Web site Friday, along with a statement of responsibility by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. It was the same group that had announced Johnson's abduction over the weekend.

[...] The kidnappers had threatened to behead Johnson, a longtime resident of Saudi Arabia, by Friday if imprisoned terrorists had not been released by Saudi authorities. "In answer to what we promised ... to kill the hostage Paul Marshall after the period is over ... the infidel got his fair treatment," the Web site statement said.

I copy the full article below.





Body of Beheaded American Found
Friday, June 18, 2004, Link

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia The body of American hostage Paul M. Johnson Jr. (search), apparently beheaded by an Al Qaeda-linked Saudi militant group, was found Friday just outside the Saudi Arabian capital.

The discovery came soon after a Web site posted pictures of his death.

Meanwhile, the top Al Qaeda figure in Saudi Arabia believed responsible for the kidnapping and execution was killed along with two others while they were disposing of Johnson's body Friday, U.S. officials confirmed.

Killed were Abdulaziz Issa Abdul-Mohsin al-Moqrin (search), the head of a group calling itself Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (search), and two militants who were on the kingdom of Saudi Arabia's Most Wanted list of extremists, according to the Arab satellite network Al-Arabiya (search).

The two were named by the television network as brothers Faisal and Bandar al-Dakheel, who were on an Interior Ministry list of 26 top fugitives in Saudi Arabia. All three died in an exchange of gunfire in Riyadh.

Saudi officials in Washington said on condition of anonymity that one other militant and five Saudi security officers also were killed in the gunbattle, and that fighting was continuing. Two suspects escaped, said one Saudi security official who took part in the raid.

A senior Saudi official in Washington said a second operation aimed at Al Qaeda supporters or suspects was under way.

Earlier Friday, the organization Search for International Terrorist Entities (SITE) confirmed to Fox News that a message on the Al Rifaq Web site said Johnson's body was found in Al Muwannisiyya, east of Riyadh.

The news came hours after gruesome photographs of Johnson with his head cut off were posted on an Al Qaeda Web site Friday, along with a statement of responsibility by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. It was the same group that had announced Johnson's abduction over the weekend.

"America will not be intimidated by these kinds of extremist thugs," President Bush said Friday.

He extended his "deepest sympathies" to Johnson's family.

"The murder of Paul shows the evil nature of the enemy we face," Bush said. "These are barbaric people. There's no justification whatsoever for his murder, and yet they killed him in cold blood. It should remind us that we should pursue these people."

The Saudi Embassy also had harsh words about Johnson's murder during a Friday afternoon press conference.

"This is an attack against humanity," said Adel al-Jubeir, foreign affairs advisor to the Saudi crown prince.

Al-Arabiya television broke the news of the Lockheed Martin (search) employee's execution by beheading about 1 p.m. EDT Friday.

The kidnappers had threatened to behead Johnson, a longtime resident of Saudi Arabia, by Friday if imprisoned terrorists had not been released by Saudi authorities.

"In answer to what we promised ... to kill the hostage Paul Marshall after the period is over ... the infidel got his fair treatment," the Web site statement said. "Let him taste something from what Muslims tasted who were long reached by Apache helicopter fire and missiles."

Al-Moqrin's fighters are blamed in a string of terror strikes in Saudi Arabia in recent months, among them the May 29 shooting and hostage-taking attack on the oil hub of Khobar that killed 22 people, most of them foreign, and the Nov. 8, 2003 homicide bombing at Riyadh housing compounds that killed 17, most of them non-Saudi Muslims working in the kingdom.

Johnson was the second American to be beheaded by Islamic militants in recent weeks. Nicholas Berg was killed the same way last month in Iraq, apparently by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (search), an Al Qaeda associate who appears to have built up his own terror network.

The message and still photographs of Johnson's beheaded body were posted just as the 72-hour deadline his captors had set expired.

Vice President Dick Cheney, speaking to employees at Adam Aircraft Industries in Englewood, Colo., denounced the killing and vowed that "America will hunt down these killers, one by one and destroy them."

He said the "horrendous act shows once again the nature of the enemy we're facing in the War on Terror."

Reacting to the news, Secretary of State Colin Powell characterized Johnson as "an innocent individual who was just trying to help people, and trying to do his job."

"Our thoughts are with Mr. Johnson's family," Powell told reporters.

Powell said he hoped the news will push the Saudi government to "redouble its efforts" in the fight against terrorism.

"The inhumanity of the crime exceeds all boundaries of civilized people," U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia James Oberwetter said in a statement. "There is a tremendous sadness on the part of the family, the U.S. Embassy, and the American community at Paul's death."

The Saudi ambassador to Britain called the slaying "an evil act by evil people."

"We will continue to use every effort to fight this murderous cult in Saudi Arabia," Prince Turki al-Faisal said in London.

Johnson's family remained in seclusion following the tragic news. Relatives were at a townhouse in Galloway Township, N.J., on Friday afternoon. A man who was standing in front of the house identified himself only as "Bill" and said the family did not want to talk to reporters.

The townhouse and the development in which it is located were decorated with yellow ribbons. An unidentified woman was standing outside the house, weeping.

"We are very distressed and discouraged by the news we are hearing." Lockheed Martin's Tom Jurkowsky told Fox News. "We are concerned for the family and have representatives of the company at their home to offer support and tend to their needs."

Jurkowsky would not make any further comment until Johnson's death was confirmed. He also would not comment on the impact this may have on Lockheed's operations in the region.

Johnson moved to Florida in the early 1980s to work for Lockheed Martin before leaving for Saudi Arabia. At the time of his abduction, he had been working on targeting and night vision systems for Apache helicopters.

Johnson's son traveled to New Jersey earlier this week to be with other family members.

Thousands of Saudi police spent Friday searching for Johnson.

Johnson's wife had appealed for his safe return on Arab television Friday.

"Please! I want him to come back to see me. He didn't do anything wrong," Thanom Johnson, said in interview on Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya. "I've never seen him having any problems with the people here. Never."

Johnson's kidnappers released a videotape of him on Tuesday night saying they would kill him unless the Saudi government released all militants in its prisons within 72 hours. The Saudis rejected the demand.

Police went through several Riyadh neighborhoods from Thursday night through Friday morning.

People living in the districts, which lie in western and southern Riyadh, suggested that the kidnappers enjoy popular support, partly because of U.S. policy in Iraq and its perceived backing for Israel.

"How can we inform on our brothers when we see all these pictures coming from Abu Ghraib and Rafah," Muklas Nawaf, a resident of Dhahar al-Budaih, said as he ate meat grilled on a spit at a restaurant called Jihad, Arabic for "holy war."

He was referring to the pictures of Iraqis abused by U.S. soldiers at the Abu Ghraib prison (search) in Baghdad and Israeli military incursions and killings in the Gaza refugee camp of Rafah.

"This is not a little skirmish. It is a war," Nawaf said.

A prominent Washington-based Islamic civil rights and advocacy group denounced Johnson's beheading on Friday.

"We condemn this act of senseless violence and repudiate all those who believe such murderous behavior benefits the faith of Islam or the Muslim people," said the statement from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). "We call for the swift apprehension and prosecution of the perpetrators."

The U.S. State Department updated a 2-month-old travel warning for Saudi Arabia, pointing out that attacks on Americans there have resulted in deaths and injuries and, in a reference to Johnson, a kidnapping.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Posted by David Melle
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