- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 13, 2004

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — A purported al Qaeda statement yesterday claimed that the terrorist group had kidnapped one American man in the Saudi capital and killed another American. It threatened to treat the captive as U.S. troops treated Iraqi prisoners.

The U.S. Embassy confirmed an American was missing but would not identify him.

“We do have reports of a missing American,” an embassy official said. “We are working with local authorities to find him and are in touch with his family.”

The al Qaeda statement, posted late yesterday on an Islamist Web site, showed a passport-size photograph of a brown-haired man and a business card bearing the name Paul M. Johnson. It said he was born in 1955. He was believed to be from New Jersey.

It said al Qaeda would release a videotape later to show Mr. Johnson’s confessions and list its demands.

The statement was signed by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the same group that claimed responsibility for a shooting and hostage-taking spree in the eastern Saudi city of Khobar on May 29-30. The attack at the hub of the Saudi oil industry killed 22 persons, mostly foreign workers.

The videotape that claims to show the “beheading of a Jewish American, Robert Jacobs” was attributed to the same group.

The statement said the terror group would deal with the hostage just as “the Americans dealt with our brothers in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib” — a reference to sexual and other purported abuses of Iraqi and Muslim prisoners by U.S. troops in the detention camp in Cuba and the Baghdad prison.

Earlier yesterday, an American identified by the U.S. Embassy as Kenneth Scroggs was shot and killed as he pulled his car into the garage of his home in Riyadh’s Malaz district. He was the third Westerner to be killed in the kingdom in a week.

The statement said Mr. Johnson is one of four experts in Saudi Arabia working on developing Apache helicopter systems and that the American killed worked in the same industry.

“Everybody knows that these helicopters are used by the Americans, their Zionist allies and the apostates to kill Muslims, terrorizing them and displacing them in Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq,” the statement said.

“The mujahideen also managed to kill another American who is working as a manager in the same military sector where the hostage was working. The mujahideen monitored him and killed him in his house.”

The statement was signed by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the same group that claimed responsibility for a shooting and hostage-taking spree in the eastern Saudi city of Khobar on May 29-30, killing 22 persons.

It said it would release a video tape later to list its demands and show Mr. Johnson’s confession.

The statement could not immediately be verified. In Washington, State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said reports of a missing American were being investigated.

An estimated 8.8 million foreigners work among 17 million Saudis in the kingdom, mostly in oil, banking and other high-level businesses.

The United States has urged all its citizens to leave the kingdom, and the British Foreign Office has advised Britons against all nonessential travel to Saudi Arabia.

“Those Americans who choose to remain here should exercise the utmost caution as they go about their daily life,” U.S. Ambassador James C. Oberwetter said earlier.

The Saudi government launched a high-profile campaign against terrorists after suicide bombings last year and has blamed the attacks on people inspired by or belonging to the al Qaeda network led by Saudi-born Osama bin Laden.

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