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Powell Condemns Beheading of American in Saudi Arabia - 2004-06-18

Secretary of State Colin Powell has condemned the killing of American hostage Paul Johnson in Saudi Arabia as an act of barbarism and says it will prompt U.S. and Saudi authorities to redouble efforts to root out terrorism.

Mr. Powell said the United States is still awaiting confirmation of Mr. Johnson's death. But the Islamist website which posted the announcement of the execution by the Saudi branch of al-Qaida also carried a picture of the American's decapitated body.

The secretary of state, in a talk with reporters, called it an act of "barbarism," and the cold blooded murder of an individual who was just trying to do his job.

"If anything it will cause us, and I'm quite confident will cause our Saudi colleagues, to redouble our efforts to go after terrorists whoever they are, wherever they are trying to hide," he said.

Mr. Powell said the thoughts of the Bush administration are with Mr. Johnson's family, who had shown great courage in dealing with the kidnapping ordeal.