RIYADH (Reuters) – Al Qaeda militants in Saudi Arabia beheaded American hostage Paul Johnson Friday and their leader was then killed in a shootout with security forces as he tried to dispose of the body, Saudi officials said.
Abdulaziz al-Muqrin’s Islamist group displayed photographs of the 49-year-old aviation engineer’s severed head on a Web site. Shortly afterwards, as Muqrin and two other top militants deposited the body in the capital Riyadh, they were surrounded by Saudi security men and gunned down, a security source said.
Muqrin, a young man driven by revenge and hatred for the United States and its Arab allies, was Saudi Arabia’s most wanted al Qaeda leader. His death will be portrayed as a major blow to Saudi-born Osama bin Laden by the kingdom’s rulers, once chided by their U.S. allies as being soft on terrorism.