Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee to discuss immigration policy and was quickly questioned about a Saudi national who was reported early in the investigation of the Boston Marathon bombings as a “person of interest.”
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) inquired about Abdul Rahman Ali al Harbi, about whom Napolitano refused to answer questions at a previous hearing. “Before the [Tsarnaev] brothers became the focus of the investigation, authorities questioned a Saudi student who reportedly was on a terror watchlist,” said Grassley, “…if so, how did he obtain a student visa?”
Napolitano’s response contradicts itself in just a few short sentences.
“He was not on a watchlist. What happened is — this student was, really when you back it out, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was never a subject. He was never even really a person of interest. Because he was being interviewed, he was at that point put on a watchlist, and then when it was quickly determined he had nothing to do with the bombing, the watch listing status was removed.”
So which is it? Was he on a watchlist or not? If he wasn’t a “person of interest,” why was he being interviewed? If he was never a “subject,” why was he issued an event file designated 212 3B by federal authorities?
The media has been decidedly silent on the subject of Al Harbi. The front pages of ABCNews.com, CBSNews.com, NBCNews.com, and CNN.com do not contain information on the Saudi national, whose whereabouts has not been released by authorities as of the time of this posting.
* Updates to this story will be posted, as needed, if more information is released.