13 June 2004
-- Al-Qaeda today claimed responsibility for yesterday's
killing of an American contractor in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia,
and the kidnapping of another American civilian contractor
in the military sector.
claim was made in a statement posted on the Sawt al-Jihad
The message claimed Al-Qaeda militants had carried out
both the killing and kidnapping yesterday to "avenge
U.S. mistreatment" of
Muslim prisoners in Iraq and at the U.S.-run military prison
at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The statement was signed "Al-Qaeda Organization in the
Arabian Peninsula." It identified the kidnapped American
as 49-year-old Paul Marshal Johnson, a specialist on
Apache attack helicopters who is from New Jersey. On
the group displayed Johnson's passport and a business
card showing he worked for the U.S. defense firm Lockheed
as a systems engineer and manager. Lockheed Martin has
confirmed that Johnson was one of their employees in
The U.S. Embassy has identified yesterday's shooting victim
as Kenneth Scroggs. He was the third westerner to be killed
by suspected Islamic militants in Saudi Arabia in a week.
Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah last night urged a group
of visiting Saudi dignitaries at a palace in Riyadh to
on Islamic militants. "I'm hoping [for help] from you and
I repeat that if any word or news reaches you of any person
who you sense has deviated -- deviated from religion or
attacked religion or is an extremist. You must stop them
and bring them to me personally," he said.
One Saudi man who witnessed yesterday's attack on the
home of Scroggs described the killing as un-Islamic. "This is
a crime. What we are seeing is not in the name of Islam," the
A neighbor of Scroggs described him as a quiet American
who never caused problems for other residents nearby. "He
was our neighbor. We used to see him leave the house
in the morning around 6:30 a.m. and he would come back
the afternoon. He is an American. He lived there with
his wife. We never saw him do anything wrong or bad.
to see him and his wife all the time. I don't think they
had children and we never saw anything bad from him.
We never heard any noises. He has been our neighbor for
two years now. He was about 55 years old and they never
visitors. They were living by themselves and were very
quiet neighbors. He got killed in the afternoon and I
don't think he had any enemies. He didn't look like a
has enemies. I don't know why he was killed. It seems
like a pointless killing," the neighbor said.
Yesterday's attacks appeared to be part of a campaign of
anti-Western violence that has surged in Saudi Arabia during
the last two months. Analysts say the wave of violence
say is aimed at disrupting the international oil market
by driving foreign workers out of the world's biggest oil
producing country and stirring up fears about whether the
kingdom can meet its oil production pledges.
An estimated 8.8 million foreigners work among 17 million
Saudis in the kingdom. Many of the foreign workers from
Western countries are employed in the oil sector, banking,
or other high-level businesses.
In London, Saudi Minister for Islamic Affairs Sheikh Saleh
bin Abdulaziz al-Sheikh has been attempting to ease the
concerns of jittery oil traders. Despite the growing wave
of anti-Western violence, al-Sheikh told journalists last
night that terrorism in Saudi Arabia has not reached crisis
proportions. Al-Sheikh concluded that the situation is
controllable, but that Saudi forces have held back on attacking
terrorists who live in crowded areas because innocent Saudi
citizens could be hurt.
Copyright (c) 2004. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission
of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave. NW,
Washington DC 20036. Funded by the US Congress.