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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Al Qaeda Claims Responsibility for Beheading Paul Johnson

Aired June 18, 2004 - 15:55   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to wrap things up here for a few minutes out of Atlanta and go back to Washington, D.C. Our Judy Woodruff standing by there.
That quote, Judy, that you received from the senator of New Jersey very interesting, about coming forward and talking about the Saudi neglect of terrorists and allowing it to thrive there. It's brought up a lot of discussion and a lot of response from a number of people we've been talking to.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Pretty harsh indictment from the senator. Clearly, the sentiment of a number of members of the United States Senate. We're going to be trying to get that.

Right now, we have someone we want to speak with on the phone from Riyadh. He is Omar El-Zebedi. He is with Al Arabiya, the television news network.

Mr. El-Zebedi, first of all, what have you seen? What do you know in the way of confirming the murder of Paul Johnson?

OMAR EL ZEBEDI, AL ARABIYA: Actually, we at first found this information from some -- some Islamic Web site. Then we found their source is al-Islah (ph) Web site. Al-Islah (ph) Web site is al-Islah (UNINTELLIGIBLE). It's worked against the Saudi government from United -- from U.K.

First, the al-Islah (ph), they believe that -- who makes this, the terrorism who makes this, the al Mujahadeen, that means the soldiers of god. And when we check in the -- in the Web site, we found some very horrible pictures. It's crazy pictures how they -- I'm sorry to explain this.

They cut the guy and his head. And it's very, very bad pictures. And it's very sad day in Saudi Arabia.

Then we found first (ph) who give the information first. It's al-Islah (ph) Web site. Then we start to have some information from the American embassy and from Saudi local government.

Actually, before few days, you know, since 11th of September, the Saudi government tried to stop all of the terrorism groups to grow in Saudi Arabia. And today -- today, there is a very huge fight, actually. They closed some areas trying to find the guy, until they found a body before like two hours. I'm not sure yet is it the body for the American guy or it's not. WOODRUFF: We're talking with Omar El-Zebedi. He is with Al Arabiya in Riyadh. You're telling us that they did find a body it is not known yet -- it has not been positively identified. Let me just ask you, without being too graphic, the pictures, is it clear -- how clear are those pictures on the Web site that you were looking at in terms of being able to identify who the person is?

EL-ZEBEDI: It was very clear. It was very clear pictures that he's the American guy. And now, before few minutes only, there is three of the terrorism killed in Riyadh. The government, they clean -- they killed three of the terrorism just before few minutes and they take one of the bodies right now.

WOODRUFF: When you say tourists, tourism, you said the government killed three? I think you are referring to terrorists? Is that right? Suspected terrorists? Am I correct?

EL-ZEBEDI: Terrorists, yes.

WOODRUFF: And I -- we apologize for the poor phone connection. Again, we're talking to Omar El-Zebedi in Riyadh. The government, how did they -- where did they find these individuals who they are claiming were terrorists? Where were they?

EL-ZEBEDI: Actually, there is a lot of -- of the groups, terrorist groups in Saudi Arabia. And there is some names. Some very famous names who the government tried to find them and stop them in any way, alive or dead.

And for -- for the last few days, they closed some areas in Riyadh and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to search for the guy, for the American guy. Today, as usual, not the first time, every few days, they kill or they stop or the government did very successful, very successful work in the land. But now the change is very big difference since the last 12th of May was the last year was the explosion start to attack the people in the compounds and, now terrorist group, they change their tactic.

They start to kill the people and kidnap them, so they tried to change. That mean they -- that could mean they lose their -- the power, which they had it before. Because the big operations need a lot of money and need a lot of planning. This kind of operation, they need -- it need nothing, just to move in the street, catch an American.

WOODRUFF: Do you have any way of knowing -- we're talking again with Omar El-Zebedi with al-Arabiya, that news organization. He's based in Riyadh. Any idea whether these terrorists who the Saudi officials were going after, are they Saudi nationals or are they from another country?

EL-ZEBEDI: Most -- sorry. Most of the terrorist group who work in Saudi Arabia, most of them, they're (ph) Saudis (UNINTELLIGIBLE) but that's fact. They are Saudis, most of who killed and who was in the jail right now, they are Saudis. WOODRUFF: Who were involved. All right. We're speaking with Omar El-Zebedi. He is with al-Arabiya in Riyadh. He was describing what he saw on an Islamic Web site and then telling us that Saudi officials have killed three suspected terrorists just in the last hour or two in Riyadh as they were attempting to go after the killer or the killers of Paul Johnson.

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