- (Photo: AP / Damian Dovarganes)
A Saudi national once linked to the Boston Bombings as a "person of interest" by federal authorities was only placed on the government's "no-fly" list as a precaution after the deadly attacks last Monday, according to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official.
In a report on Tuesday, the DHS official told TheBlaze that Saudi national Abdul Rahman Ali Alharbi, who is in the U.S. on a student visa, was placed on the terrorist watch list after he was detained but before federal agents were able to ascertain whether he was just a witness or had been involved in the bombings.
Alharbi was earlier tagged by the National Targeting Center in an "event file" and recommended for deportation under section 212, 3B.
Conservative political commentator Glenn Beck earlier made the following comments in the build-up to controversial information he had on the Boston bombings: "We are not sure who actually tagged him as '212 3B,' but we know it is very difficult to charge someone with this – it has to be almost certain."
"It is the equivalent in civil society of charging someone with premeditated murder and seeking the death penalty – it is not thrown around lightly," he added.
According to the report: "Alharbi is currently considered innocent and not connected to the Boston bombings or the two suspects identified by the FBI… He was very cooperative and willing to do whatever investigators required to prove his innocence."
He is also not currently under any deportation order and his exact location in the U.S. is currently unknown, according to the DHS official in the report.
Highlighting that the application of the "212 3B" regulation still appeared a little sketchy in Alharbi's case, the report further begs a response on why the Saudi was flagged in the first place.
At a congressional hearing on the investigations last Thursday, Homeland Security head, Janet Napolitano, noted that she wasn't aware of anyone "being deported for national security concerns at all related to Boston."
Alharbi, she said, wasn't an actual suspect or a person of interest in the case.
Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) reportedly asked her during the hearing why plans were made to deport someone who was allegedly at the scene of the bombings, and she declined to respond stating the question was "just not worthy of an answer."
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials also denied Alharbi was under any deportation order. According to the DHS source, Alharbi may have been confused with a second Saudi student who was taken into custody on the day of the Boston bombings due to a visa violation.
Also in the U.S. on a student visa, the second Saudi was apprehended at a port in Boston where he was collecting a shipment. He was detained due to the security checks related to the Boston bombings. He was cleared of any connection but was found to have violated the terms of his student visa by not enrolling in school.