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Boston Marathon Bombings & Saudi ‘person of interest’: Query to Saudi Embassy, White House Responds

18 April 2013 No Comment

Appearing in CFP.

In the wake of the horrific April 15 bombing at the Boston Marathon that killed three people including a 8-year old boy, injuring over one hundred and forty, and the media frenzy that ensued, yesterday I contacted the Saudi Embassy In Washington, DC, seeking answers regarding President Obama’s meeting with Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal, the Boston Marathon bombing, and the conflicting media reports regarding the Saudi national, Abdulrahman Ali Alharbi— initially considered a “person of interest.”

Following is our email exchange and the response I received from the White House Press Office in its entirety to my queries (available at the end) to the Saudi Embassy. In the email, the White House press office is referring to terrorism expert Steve Emerson’s appearance on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program where Emerson claimed that the 22-year old Saudi student was being deported on “national security grounds.”

Shortly thereafter I received a separate response from the Saudi Embassy press office. With no comment, they sent this story written by The Hill’s Julian Pecquet and Jordy Yager: Saudi student hurt in Boston bombing not a suspect, not being deported.

April 18, 2013 Email exchange.

Subject: RE: Query re: Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal’s meeting with President Obama

Date: 4/18/2013 4:17:37 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time

From: XXX@saudiembassy.net

Reply To: To: Marinkapm@XXXX

Dear Ms. Peschmann,

Prince Saud Al-Faisal’s meeting was with National Security Advisor Tom Donilon and was scheduled a while back and the president joined in later as previous presidents do. On Monday we were informed that Mr. Al-Harbi was NOT a suspect but a witness. He was never named a “person of interest” by law enforcement, the media did based on “anonymous sources”. Anonymous can be anyone and no one. Remember CNN’s John King’s sources about the arrests yesterday.

As for reports that Mr. Al-Harbi is being deported, that is a fabrication, which is in line with Mr. Steve Emerson’s record. After all, islamophobia, hate and fear is Mr. Emerson’s bread and butter. The rumor started with Steve Emerson on Fox’s Hannity show yesterday.

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release
April 17, 2013
Statement by NSC Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden on National Security Advisor Tom Donilon’s Meeting with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal

President Obama joined National Security Advisor Tom Donilon’s meeting today with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal. The President and Prince Saud Al-Faisal reaffirmed the strong partnership between the United States and Saudi Arabia and discussed developments in the region, including the conflict in Syria. Prince Saud Al-Faisal offered his condolences for those affected by the attack in Boston. The President asked Prince Saud Al-Faisal to convey his best wishes to King Abdullah bin Abd Al-Aziz Al Saud.


From: Marinkapm@XXX
Sent: Thursday, April 18, 2013 3:04 PM
To: Press Account
Subject: Query re: Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal’s meeting with President Obama

Greetings, my name is Marinka Peschmann and I’m a freelance journalist. I was hoping to ask you about Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal’s recent meeting with President Barack Obama.

First, will you be releasing minutes from the meeting or a press release? If so, when, and could I receive a copy?

This meeting was not on President Obama’s public schedule, can you tell me when it was arranged?

I understand during the meeting they spoke about Syria. First if you could share the latest developments and future plans for Syria, and then did they also speak about the Boston Marathon bombings? If so, please elaborate.

There have been reports that Abdul Rahman Ali Alharbi, a Saudi national who is in the United States on a student visa, has been named a “person of interest” in the Boston Marathon bombings. Did Prince Saud al-Faisal discuss this with President Obama and if so, what did they say?

Would you comment on the conflicting reports that Abdul Rahman Ali Alharbi might be deported? This seems very odd and should be clarified. If accurate, do you know why he would be deported from the United States? If inaccurate, do you know where this rumor originated from?

Many thanks for your time on this matter. I look forward to hearing back from you.

All best,

Marinka Peschmann

Screenshot of the email exchange