Law Enforcement: Injured Saudi Is A Witness, Not A Suspect, In Bombings

As I noted in my post this morning, much attention was paid to the story of a Saudi citizen who was injured during yesterday’s bombing in Boston and, according to some reports, was considered either a “person of interest” or a “suspect” in the case. This afternoon, law enforcement officials confirmed that he is not considered a suspect in the case at all:

U.S. law enforcement officials said Tuesday that a Saudi national injured in the Boston Marathon bombing is regarded as a witness, not a suspect.

The Saudi, who is recuperating at a Boston hospital, is in his 20s and is in the United States on a Saudi scholarship to study at a university in the Boston area.

The federal officials’ explanation echoed comments by a Saudi official at the country’s embassy in Washington. The embassy official said that a Saudi national has been questioned as a witness but is not regarded as a suspect. The Saudi official cited information provided to the embassy by U.S. law enforcement officials.

“We’re not aware of any Saudi suspect or Saudi person of interest,” said the Saudi official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the preliminary nature of the information.

He declined to identify the young man, but said he sustained serious burn injuries. The official said the victim is cooperating with U.S. investigators and granted permission for his Boston area apartment to be searched.

“He volunteered to have it searched,” the Saudi official said. “He is fully cooperating with authorities.”

I suppose he can be thankful that his name wasn’t made public (yet, I hope), and his reputation smeared by a media machine that doesn’t seem to care who it harms.

FILED UNDER: Crime, Quick Takes
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Septimius says:

    So, the police searched his apartment because he’s a…witness?

  2. @Septimius:

    Did you read the linked article? He gave them consent to search.Which means they didn’t even need to get a warrant.

  3. Jeremy R says:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/17/us/officials-investigate-boston-explosions.html

    Late Monday night, law enforcement officials descended on an apartment building in the suburb of Revere, about five miles north of Copley Square, linked to a man the police took into custody near the scene of the bombings. But on Tuesday morning, one law enforcement official said investigators had determined that the man, who was hurt in a blast and was questioned at the hospital, was not involved in the attack.

    http://bostonglobe.com/metro/2013/04/16/don-think-could-that-says-roommate-saudi-arabian-man-questioned-marathon-bombings/Ec9tMf5ZbYFIM6SuXiFoVO/story.html

    A spokesman for the Saudi embassy in Washington also said US officials had told the embassy Monday night that the man was not a suspect and was cooperating with the investigation.

    “He’s been fully cooperating with authorities. We were informed by US authorities that no Saudi is a suspect,” said Nail Aljubeir, spokesman for the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington.

    “We want to know about it [the investigation] as much as everybody else. “We’re working very closely with US authorities on this. As of yesterday, we were informed that there were no Saudi suspects. He’s more a witness than anything else.”

    Aljubeir lamented that some news organizations published erroneous reports that a Saudi was a suspect, saying it endangered people …

    “It is a concern,” he said. “We’re concerned about the backlash against students based on a false story.”

  4. DWB says:

    So why does a witness need to have his apartment searched?

  5. Septimius says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Ok. Still doesn’t explain why they searched his apartment. Unless they are routinely searching the homes of other witnesses as well. It’s more likely he was, at least, a “person of interest” yesterday when that was reported.

  6. Ben says:

    @Septimius:

    Ok. Still doesn’t explain why they searched his apartment. Unless they are routinely searching the homes of other witnesses as well. It’s more likely he was, at least, a “person of interest” yesterday when that was reported.

    It’s generally been my experience that police will search ANYone at ANYtime if they can get consent.

    Unfortunately, this guy had the unmitigated GALL to be an Arab minding his own business close to an explosion.

  7. Anderson says:

    Maybe he was ruled out as a suspect *after* his apartment was searched.

  8. Dave says:
  9. @Septimius:

    As I speculated yesterday, looks like he’s a victim of Marathoning While Arab.

  10. Septimius says:

    @Ben: I don’t disagree, and I’m also glad that he didn’t have his name dragged through the mud for something he didn’t do. But, I also don’t think it’s necessarily fair to criticize the reports from yesterday that called him a “person of interest” or even a “suspect.” When the police question someone, and then search his apartment, it’s not unreasonable that the media will describe him in that manner.

  11. Craigo says:

    @SeptimiusThat’s not at all reasonable. Not even a little bit. That can – no, will – ruin the lives of innocent people, if not put them in danger.

  12. matt bernius says:

    @Septimius:

    But, I also don’t think it’s necessarily fair to criticize the reports from yesterday that called him a “person of interest” or even a “suspect.”

    Bull.

    It’s entirely fair to criticize them for the latter, as the term has a specific meaning. Further, at no time did any government official confirm that this person was a “suspect.” In fact, at ever turn they went out of their way to state that the individual was NOT A SUSPECT.

    So sorry, but what the Post, and a few other news outlets did, did was wrong.

    And what FoxNews did, in publishing his name, was completely unethical — especially given what happened to Richard Jewelle in the wake of the 1996 Atlanta bombing.

  13. matt bernius says:

    @matt bernius:

    So sorry, but what the Post, and a few other news outlets did, did was wrong.

    BTW, I should also say that all of the professional journalists who retweeted (or worse, reported) the fact that the NY Post was reporting that a suspect was being held are not much better. Basically they were complicit accomplices in the reporting of this false information.

    The only exceptions go to those who were reporting the Post Story in order to criticize it (and even then its shaky ground as there was no need to engage in that type of criticism as the event unfolded).

  14. Andre Kenji says:

    If he is Arab he must be guilty. Or something like that.

  15. JKB says:

    I read somewhere this morning, I don’t remember where, that he was tackled by citizens and turned over to police. That immediately move this to unlikely to go anywhere category for me. The police would have to question him given the possibly erroneous statement of events by the other individuals. In a situation like this, a request to search might have been made or perhaps he volunteered just to close out the matter.

    It is unfortunate that his name was publicized since there was no credible confirmation by authorities that he was even a person of interest. Well, outside of being someone who was there and might have seen something of value.

  16. Franklin says:

    They said he was fully cooperating yesterday – I thought that was a bit unusual if he was guilty because it seems like terrorists are usually defiant.

  17. mosher says:

    they must apologize for this poor young man, he was a victim of the bombing and a victim of the rampant racism in America against foreigners,,,, especially since he is a student, and spends in the country more than a U.S. citizen,,,,,

  18. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @mosher: Oh, please just drop it. This is not a good time to push the “America is a horribly racist place and racism is the greatest evil in the world” schtick.

    And “especially since he is a student?” Several of the 9/11 hijackers were here on student visas. The Times Square bomber came here on a student visa. Plenty of would-be terrorist rings have been broken up, and a lot of the suspects were here on student visas.

    So “especially since he is a student” doesn’t mean we owe him an even more abject apology.

  19. Lounsbury says:

    @Septimius:
    Presumably he was guilty of being Saudi and near an event, doubtless the poor bastard volunteered so as to avoid being sucked into hell.

  20. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Septimius: Ok. Still doesn’t explain why they searched his apartment.

    Here’s a possibility: he suggested it. I can see someone saying “I’m innocent — go ahead and search my home for bomb-making materials!” to prove their innocence.

    Not the sort of thing one’s lawyer would recommend, but it would be a hell of a fast way to get oneself off the suspect list.