July 21, 2004
CAIRO, Egypt - The head of slain American hostage Paul M. Johnson Jr., who was kidnapped and beheaded by militants in Saudi Arabia last month, was found in a raid on the house of Saudi Arabia's al-Qaida leader, the Interior Ministry said Wednesday.
Authorities said the head was found as Saudi security forces raided the home of Saleh Mohammed al-Aoofi. Two militants were killed and three were wounded in the sweep, but it was not clear if al-Aoofi was among them.
A Saudi Interior Ministry official who reported the gunbattle and raid late Tuesday said authorities were holding the wife and three children of al-Aoofi.
In a statement, broadcast on Saudi al-Ekhbariya television monitored in Cairo, the Interior Ministry said the head was found in a freezer in the apartment. The statement said the rest of the body was not found.
Johnson, a 49-year-old engineer who had worked in Saudi Arabia for more than a decade, was kidnapped June 12 by militants in Riyadh who followed through on a threat to kill him if the kingdom did not release its al-Qaida prisoners. An al-Qaida group claiming responsibility posted an Internet message that showed grisly photographs of a beheaded body. Later, video of the beheading was posted.