RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — An al-Qaida group said today it killed American hostage Paul M. Johnson Jr., posting an Internet message that showed photographs of a beheaded body.
The statement, along with three still photos, was posted on a Web site where the group frequently makes announcements. It appeared around the time that a 72-hour deadline set by the kidnappers ended.
“In answer to what we promised … to kill the hostage Paul Marshall after the period is over … the infidel got his fair treatment,” the statement said.
“Let him taste something from what Muslims tasted who were long reached by Apache helicopter fire and missiles,” the statement said.
Johnson, who worked on Apache helicopter systems for Lockheed Martin, was kidnapped last weekend by militants who threatened to kill him by today if the kingdom did not release its al-Qaida prisoners. Saudi security forces launched an all-out search, going door-to-door in some Riyadh neighborhoods, as Johnson’s wife went on Al-Arabiya today pleading for his release.
“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 near 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.
Mizahen al-Etbi, a man shopping in the Sweidi district with his family today, praised the kidnappers as “holy warriors, heroes, who never waver … All Saudis hate Americans, not only these heroes.”