Sun, Jul 25, 2004 - Page 7 News List

Confirmation given that Riyadh head is that of US engineer


The US has confirmed that the head found in Riyadh this week is that of the decapitated hostage Paul Johnson, the spokeswoman for the US Embassy in Riyadh said Friday.

"We did see the head on Thursday and have confirmed that it is the head of Paul Johnson, unfortunately," spokeswoman Carol Kalin said in a call from the Saudi capital.

The Saudi Interior Ministry said Wednesday that during a search of a militant hideout in Riyadh, their security forces found the severed head of Johnson. But the US Embassy reserved confirmation pending their own identification of the head.

Militants linked to al-Qaeda kidnapped Johnson on June 12 and killed him six days later. The rest of Johnson's body has not been found.

Johnson, 49, was an engineer working on Apache helicopters for Lockheed Martin, the US defense contractor. He had lived in Saudi Arabia for about 10 years.

His kidnappers issued a video showing him in captivity and demanding that Saudi Arabia free all its terror detainees in exchange for his life.

The discovery of his head in a freezer after a shootout with militants on Tuesday was a breakthrough in the search for his body.

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