Al Qaeda Beheads American Paul Johnson

Reuters — Al Qaeda Beheads U.S. Hostage in Saudi

Al Qaeda militants beheaded an American engineer they had held hostage since last week, Al Arabiya television reported Friday.

The network was quoting its correspondent in Saudi Arabia and gave no further details. Al Qaeda had given the Saudi government a Friday deadline to free jailed militants or it would kill Paul Johnson

Outrageous, if unsurprising.

UPDATE: CNN — U.S. hostage beheaded

An Arabic TV news network said Friday that American hostage Paul Johnson Jr. has been beheaded by his Saudi captors.

Al Arabiya said its bureau chief had been shown the video of the killing.

A Saudi security source said, “From our end, we cannot confirm this. We have not found a body yet.”

Earlier Friday, Al Arabiya had aired an emotional statement from the wife of Johnson.

Johnson’s wife, Noom, who is Thai, said she hoped the Saudi government “can help my husband.”

U.S. and Saudi investigators concluded an intensive meeting Friday, Saudi officials said, as security forces spread all over the kingdom searching for Johnson.

Johnson, 49, a Lockheed Martin Corp. employee, had been kidnapped Saturday in the Saudi capital of Riyadh. He helped maintain U.S.-built Apache helicopter gunships for the Saudi military.

Johnson’s captors had threatened to kill him by Friday unless the Saudi government released al Qaeda prisoners and Westerners leave the Arabian Peninsula.

Abdel Aziz al-Muqrin, the self-proclaimed military leader of al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia, claimed responsibility for Johnson’s kidnapping and the death of another American on the same day on behalf of a group called the Al Falluja Squadron, which says it has ties to al Qaeda.

The State Department has urged all Americans to leave Saudi Arabia, but Johnson’s sister, Donna Mayeux, said her brother “always felt safe in Saudi Arabia.”

“My brother is an honorable man,” she said. “He has always treated people with dignity and respect.”

UPDATE: BBC — Militants ‘behead US hostage’

. . . an Islamist website showed photographs of the apparent beheading.

(via Michael King)

A site calling itself the Northeast Intelligence Network claims, “We have the images in our possesion but at this time we are not placing them on the website.” (via Jeff Quinton)

UPDATE: Apparently, “at this time” was enough time to code the pictures into HTML. They’re up. (HT: OF Jay)

UPDATE: Drudge links a somewhat more detailed AP story

“In answer to what we promised … to kill the hostage Paul Marshall (Johnson) after the period is over … the infidel got his fair treatment,” the statement said.

“Let him taste something of what Muslims have long tasted from Apache helicopter fire and missiles,” the statement said.

and has a rather grisly photo of the beheaded Johnson atop his site. (HT: Joy Larkin)

UPDATE: He’s taken the photo off the main page but posted three of them here.

UPDATE (7/17): Paul Johnson Beheading Video Released

FILED UNDER: Terrorism
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brent Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He's a widower and father of two young daughers. He earned his PhD from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Gayest Neil says:

    I love this site! I’m all for the reelection of Bush. So what if a few innocents are beheaded in the name of big oil and a-fightin terror. It’s a sacrifice the middle class must make for that spoon fed, little redneck.

    YEEEE HAWWW…Bush 2004

    Gayest Neil
    Fink(n) a contemptable person. an informer

    Get informed, come to finktank3000


  2. James,
    Troll alert. And a disgusting one at that. Let’s blame Bush for a terrorist killing an innocent. Let’s not blame the terrorists. You know, cause it was Johnson’s fault for working for a greedy oil company.

    On a related note, there was a Guardian piece today from a Muslim friend of Mr. Johnson. What is sickening about the letter is he condemns the terrorists on the ground that killing Johnson would be bad 1) because he was under his, a Muslim’s, protection 2) because Johnson showed interest in Islam and apparently didn’t like American politics. It wouldn’t be bad to kill Johnson, say, just because that sort of thing is wrong in and of itself.


  3. mhking says:

    I haven’t seen the video; not sure where it is — yet.

    I’m sure I’ll get wind of it sometime later tonight. I dont’ know if I want to see it.

    Creating the world’s largest glass-coated parking lot sounds real appealing right about now.


  4. Brad says:

    I think that bush is a stupid tool and that if they find these stupid terrorists they should put hooks up inside thier eyes and then drag them behind a car


  5. Traveler says:

    COWARDS ALL! And has the bloodshed REALLY made any difference? The middle east deserves better, but if they reject International intervention, then they deserve to continue their barbarian way of life!


  6. OF Jay says:

    NEIN now has three photos up, Doc.


  7. capt joe says:

    We could probably do something reasosnable if half of the ex state dept employees wer not on the saudi payroll.

    nothing will happen. sigh….


  8. 666 says:

    Execute 20 Al-Qaeda Prisoners for every American murdered! These terrorists must pay with their own people! NO MORE TALK… If it has to end this way, then so be it! We should not give in to these dirty, smelly, RATS! MAY AL-QAEDA BE CURSE BY ALLAH HIMSELF!!!


  9. jen says:

    Maybe turning off the comments on these posts would be wise? Or we could initiate a troll hunt?


  10. Anonymous says:

    Execute 20 (19 Hijackers + 1 (Musawi))AL-QAEDA members for every American murdered! MAY AL-QAEDA BE CURSED BY ALLAH HIMSELF!!!