In another transparent attempt to discredit the Saudi regime, Al-Qaeda operatives kidnapped an American citizen from his apartment in Riyadh, posted his picture on the Internet, and threatened to kill him unless their demands were met. The demands included the release of Al-Qaeda prisoners from Saudi jails and the departure of all "westerners" from the Arabian Peninsula. The Saudi authorities replied that they won't negotiate with terrorists.

Just before Paul Johnson was killed, a Saudi colleague of his went Al Qaeda one better, by countering their bogus use of Muhammad's teachings to underwrite mayhem. Saad Al-Mumen, a Saudi citizen and one of Johnson's co-workers, wrote them a letter, also posted on the Internet, with a prophetic quotation of his own. (The letter accompanies an interview with al-Mu'men, posted on Al-Arabiya news channel's website.)

In the letter, Al-Mumen not only pledged to protect Paul Johnson. He noted that he was doing so as a Muslim, in the context of traditional Islam. In this way, he is putting Al Qaeda on notice that killing Johnson is a breach of Islamic law. The murderous Mullahs may not fall into a quandary over this- their self-serving interpretations of Islam tend to be as crude and one-sided as the brays of a blind donkey-but for others looking on the chances are good that a lot of Muslims will horrified by the treachery, should it actually be carried out.

Why? Because Muslim tradition all the way back to the Prophet Muhammad (who Al Qaeda is always anxious to make their own), upholds the laws of sanctuary on universal grounds.

This applies to all people, not only to Muslims. Al-Mu'men even cites a traditional saying of Muhammad's: " If they were granted protection (by a Muslim), then killing or taking their money or harming them is forbidden."

Al-Mumen addressed his letter to the kidnappers. He warned them that he had already extended his friend a Muslim's protection. He demanded that Al Qaeda follow Islamic teaching, about which they are always sounding off, and "respect God's law rather than their own personal interests."

A lot of Muslims should raise a ruckus over this beheading, because Al Qaeda has hoisted itself upon its own petard, claiming to be the holiest of the holy, while behaving like sociopaths.

The outcome is very uncertain. It does not bode well that Saad Al-Mumen is a pseudonym and that Johnson's friend has had to disguise his true identity in order to make his claim.

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