American Paul M. Johnson, Jr., an engineer working in Saudi Arabia, was kidnapped last weekend and murdered on Friday by terrorists who claimed to be members of al-Qaida. The reputed leader of the group in Saudi, Abdulaziz al-Moqrin, was killed hours after Johnson’s death by members of Saudi security forces.

Johnson worked on Apache attack helicopter systems for Lockheed Martin. His severed head was shown on a Web site on Friday.

“To the Americans and whoever is their ally … in the war against Islam, this action is punishment to them,” said a statement from al-Qaida.

Reaction from local Muslim leaders was immediate. A statement released by the East Texas Islamic Society spokesman, Tyler businessman Anwar Khalifa, denounced the beheading and the terrorists who carried it out in the name of Islam.

“We Muslims wish to state clearly that those who commit acts of terror, murder and cruelty in the name of Islam are not only destroying innocent lives, but are also betraying the values of the faith they claim to represent. No injustice done to Muslims can ever justify the massacre of innocent people like Nicholas Berg and Paul Johnson, and no act of terror will ever serve the cause of Islam.

“We repudiate and disassociate ourselves from any Muslim group or individual who commits such brutal and un-Islamic acts. We refuse to allow our faith to be held hostage by the criminal actions of a tiny minority acting outside the teachings of both the Quran and Prophet Mohammed, Peace be upon him..


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