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Kidnappers Kill American Hostage Paul Johnson - 2004-06-18


Al-Qaida terrorists in Saudi Arabia have killed American hostage Paul Johnson.

The Dubai-based satellite television station al-Arabyia reported Friday night that Paul Johnson was beheaded by the al-Qaida terrorists. The 49-year-old American was kidnapped last Saturday.

A short time later, three photographs were shown on an Islamic Internet site depicting the beheading.

The death of Mr. Johnson follows days of intensive search throughout the capital Riyadh for the kidnappers.

Helicopters hovered over the skyline of Saudi capital late Friday as thousands of police and security officers conducted door-to-door searches. There were police checkpoints at dozens of intersections throughout the city. Fire department vehicles joined the search.

Earlier in the day, in a tearful plea for his release, Mr. Johnson's wife, Noom Johnson, appeared on the Arabic language al Arabiya television station asking for help from the Saudi government.

Members of the terrorist group al-Qaida released a videotape of Mr. Johnson on Tuesday, saying they would kill him in 72 hours unless the Saudi government releases all militants in its prisons. The deadline was set to expire Friday. The Saudi government says it will not give in to terrorists.

The overwhelming majority of Saudis say they condemn acts of terror being perpetrated by al-Qaida militants. A prominent Saudi cleric, speaking during Friday's prayers in Mecca, denounced hostage taking as a sin under Islam.

The U.S. State Department has urged all Americans living in the kingdom to leave Saudi Arabia. Britain has issued a similar warning.

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