President Calls Contractor Murder Enemy's 'Evil Nature'
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jun. 18, 2004 President Bush today called the reported murder of a U.S. civilian contractor working in Saudi Arabia "the evil nature of the enemy we face."
Paul M. Johnson Jr., 49, who worked for Lockheed Martin as an engineer specializing in Apache helicopter systems, was kidnapped June 12. U.S. officials confirmed that Johnson's body was found today near the Saudi capital city of Riyadh.
Reports say the contractor had been beheaded.
In Washington State this afternoon after an earlier visit with soldiers at Fort Lewis, Bush offered his condolences to Johnson's family.
"The murder of Paul shows the evil nature of the enemy we face -- these are barbaric people," Bush said.
"There's no justification, whatsoever" for Johnson's murder he emphasized, adding, "they killed him in cold blood."
It's imperative, Bush declared, to pursue terrorists and bring them to justice "before they hurt other Americans."
Through acts like Johnson's killing, terrorists "are trying to shake our will and get us to retreat from the world," Bush pointed out.
"America will not retreat," the president vowed. "America will not be intimidated."
On June 15 Johnson's captors -- who claimed to be associated with al Qaeda -- reportedly had given a 72-hour ultimatum to Saudi authorities to release political prisoners. The contractor would die, the terrorists promised, if their demands weren't met. Both the American and Saudi governments have pledged not to negotiate with terrorists.
Due to increased terrorist actions in the Saudi kingdom in recent weeks, the U.S. State Department has recommended that Americans living in Saudi Arabia leave that country.
About 30,000 Americans live in Saudi Arabia.