A Saudi colleague of abducted U.S. citizen Paul Johnson Jr. urged kidnappers Thursday to free the hostage, arguing that the victim is under his protection as a Muslim and killing him would break Islamic law.

“I declare that I pledged to protect this man,” said Saad al-Mu’men, a pseudonym for the colleague, who wrote a letter that appeared on radical Islamist Web sites.

The letter — and an interview with him –was posted later on the Al Arabiya news channel’s Web site.

In his letter, al-Mu’men told the kidnappers that if Johnson is harmed, “I will never forgive you. I will curse you in all my prayers.”

He cited the prophet Mohammed in his letter: “If they were granted (Muslim) protection, then killing or taking their money or harming them is forbidden.”

In the interview, al-Mu’men said, “I addressed the letter to the kidnappers, and I told them that I have earned him holy protection. I asked them to follow the teachings of Islam and God’s law rather than their own personal interests.

“If they are true believers, they will release him after reading my letter. Especially that Paul, who works with me, has started learning about Islam after I gave him Islamic books and a translation of the holy Quran.”

Johnson, a 49-year-old Lockheed Martin employee, was kidnapped Saturday in the Saudi capital, Riyadh. Tuesday, in a video posted on an Islamist Website, his captors threatened to kill him within 72 hours unless the Saudi government releases al Qaeda prisoners and Westerners leave the Arabian peninsula.


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