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In a hearing last week, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano angrily dismissed an inquiry by a congressman about a Saudi national who was questioned by authorities in the aftermath of the Boston bombing as “not worthy of an answer,” but she admitted in a Senate hearing this week the man was on a terror watch list.
Napolitano, however, still has not responded to a request by the lawmaker she indignantly brushed off last week, Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., for a classified briefing on Abdul Rahman Ali Alharbi.
Duncan told WND Wednesday he is still pursuing the request and “will leave no stones unturned” in the investigation of Alharbi, whose unusual handling by authorities was reported last week by WND.
“Any time a member of Congress is asking a question on behalf of the American people, that question is worthy of a response,” Duncan told WND after Napolitano’s admission in the Senate hearing Tuesday appeared to justify his concern about the Saudi.
While Napolitano insisted Tuesday that authorities absolved Alharbi of anything to do with the April 15 Boston bombings and had him on a watch list only during questioning, The Blaze has reported the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s National Targeting Center issued an event file for the Saudi calling for his deportation under Section 212 (a)(3 )(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. That section makes a foreigner inadmissible to the U.S. for terrorism or related activity.
Wednesday, The Blaze further reported the event file created for Alharbi indicated he was “armed and dangerous.”
In addition, The Blaze said, emails that are automatically triggered when anyone alters an event file of that kind indicated someone removed the deportation reference.
Later, someone tried to destroy both the original event file and an amended version, The Blaze said.
‘Many questions remain unanswered’
Duncan was one of four members of the House Committee on Homeland Security who signed a letter Friday to Napolitano asking for an overview of documents related to Alharbi and a classified briefing in light of media reports that “raised concerns about this individual and adjustments that may have been made to his immigration status, including possible visa revocation and terrorist watch-listing, in the days following the bombing.”
Duncan told WND Wednesday that while Alharbi “is not viewed as a suspect in the Boston bombings, many questions remain unanswered surrounding this man.”
“That is why I have asked for a classified briefing where tough questions can be asked and answers given,” he said. “I stick by that request, and I expect Department of Homeland Security to respond to that request.
“There are important questions regarding this individual’s status, and I will leave no stones unturned as it relates to this investigation,” Duncan said.
Duncan signed the letter to Napolitano along with Reps. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, the committee chairman; Peter King, R-N.Y.; and Candice Miller, R-Mich.
At a House Homeland Security Committee meeting April 18, Napolitano refused to answer Duncan’s questions about Alharbi, saying his inquiry was “so full of misstatements and misapprehension that it’s just not worthy of an answer.”
Napolitano maintained she was “unaware of anyone being deported for national security concerns at all related to Boston.”
However, on Tuesday, responding to Sen. Chuck Grassley, Napolitano admitted that, at least during the time Alharbi was questioned, the Saudi national was put on a “watch list.”
Grassley asked: “With regard to the Saudi student, was he on a watch list, and if so, how did he obtain a student visa?”
In reply, Napolitano initially stated the Saudi “was not on a watch list.”
“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,” she said.
“Because he was being interviewed, he was at that point put on a watch list, and then when it was quickly determined he had nothing to do with the bombing, the watch listing status was removed.”
After the bombings at the Boston Marathon finish line, Alharbi was hospitalized with injuries resulting from one of the blasts and reportedly considered a person of interest.
Within 48 hours, however, after two hours of questioning and a nine-hour raid of the Saudi citizen’s apartment in which computers and email records were seized, he was being described by authorities only as a “witness” who had suffered injury. Later, authorities insisted he was not even a witness.
During that time, President Obama met with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal in a meeting that was not on Obama’s public schedule, and Secretary of State John Kerry held a meeting with the Saudi foreign minister that was abruptly closed to press coverage.
See Napolitano’s House panel testimony April 18:
Todd Starnes of Fox News reported that before the bombing, Alharbi had been flagged on a terrorist watch list and granted a student visa without being properly vetted.
The Blaze reported Wednesday that Alharbi was admitted to the U.S. under a “special advisory option,” which is usually reserved for visiting politicians, VIPs or journalists.
The event file cover page indicates he was granted special status without full vetting.
See a local news report on the search of Alharbi's apartment:
The Blaze noted the event file indicates he entered the U.S. on Aug. 28, 2012, in Boston but says he is a student at the University of Findlay, in Findlay, Ohio.
He has an apartment in Revere, Mass., however.
The Blaze published the text of the cover of Alharbi's event file:
ALHARBI, ABDULRAHMAN ALI E
COC SAUDI ARABIA
Subject is an exact match to NO FLY TPN# 1037506192. Derogatory information reviewed by W/C Mayfield and CW/C Maimbourg was found to be sufficient to request Visa revocation. NTC-P is requesting revocation of Foil# e3139541. Subject is inadmissible to the U.S. under INA 212(a)(3)(B)(i)(II). SAO was not completed prior to Visa issuance. Subject is currently in the United States, admitted F1 student, at Boston POE on 08/28/2012. Subject is a student at THE UNIVERSITY OF FINDLAY, 1000 NORTH MAIN STREET FINDLAY, OHIO 45840-3695. Subject has One (1) prior event #1648067, Fins promoted, NT record in place, No scheduled found at this time. [Emphasis added]