A Saudi Arabian newspaper is reporting that United States First Lady Michelle Obama visited in the hospital Saudi citizen Abdul Rahman Ali Issa Al-Salimi Alharbi, the young man who had been labeled a “person of interest” in the Boston Marathon bombing.
The newspaper accompanied its report with an image of Obama, although the background was generic and it couldn’t be confirmed immediately that she was at the hospital where Alharbi was being treated at the time. He reportedly suffered injuries in the Boston bombing.
The newspaper’s Arabic-language report is being highlighted by Walid Shoebat, a former Muslim Brotherhood member who now is a peace activist.
“Okaz, the same prominent Saudi newspaper that published photos of Abdul Rahman Ali Issa Al-Salimi Alharbi in the hospital after the Boston Marathon bombings, is now reporting that the Saudi national was also visited by the first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, during his hospital stay,” Shoebat reported.
The newspaper is more than half a century old and publishes out of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. It also publishes simultaneously in Riyadh.
One of the oldest newspapers in Saudi Arabia, it also is brave, taking on banned issues such as lesbianism in the repressive Islamic kingdom. Its circulation is estimated at about 150,000 and the online version was reported by Forbes Middle East two years ago to be one of the Top 10 online newspapers in the Middle East region.
It was CBS in Boston, and other outlets, that reported that President Obama and Michelle visited some of the victims of the marathon terrorism at hospitals in the Boston area yesterday.
It was reported the first lady went to Boston Children’s Hospital, as well as Brigham and Women’s Hospital, but the visits were off-limits to the media.
Reported Shoebat, “There were multiple reports that Alharbi was hospitalized at Brigham and Women’s so that would seem [to] corroborate the Okaz report.
“Okaz stated further that the first lady also visited the other injured Saudi at the hospital, a female doctor named Nura Khalid Saleh al-Ajaji.”
Shoebat said there also were tweets from members of the Alharbi family that added “credibility” to the report.
Reported Shoebat, “Now, contrarians … with concerns about this visit will likely say that the first lady was simply paying visits to all the victims in the hospital, of which Alharbi was one and had been cleared two days earlier.”
But he added, “In light of recent reports that Alharbi was scheduled for deportation on ‘national security grounds’, the first lady’s visit takes on much added significance if those reports are true. We already know that the Alharbi clan consists of multiple al-Qaida members. This would seem to bolster the claims of scheduled deportation, not claims to the contrary made by the likes of DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, who actually never really answered the question; she just got rankled and blew it off.”
Wrote Shoebat, “With the track record of this administration relative to things like blaming a video for two weeks after the Benghazi attacks, it should have a higher standard to meet and its credibility should be questioned by the American people. If these reports about Alharbi’s scheduled deportation for such reasons are correct, a visit by the first lady of the United States would indeed be significant in its importance. It would also be a major national security blunder because of the message it would send.”
WND reported earlier when an expert on terrorism said Alharbi, the original “person of interest” in the Monday bombing, was going to be deported on national security grounds.
Alharbi is a foreign student, and had been living in Revere, Mass.
"I just learned from my own sources that he is now going to be deported on national security grounds next Tuesday, which is very unusual," Steve Emerson of the Investigative Project on Terrorism told Sean Hannity of Fox News Wednesday night.
The Reuters news agency reported Barack Obama met with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal on Wednesday, noting "the meeting was not on Obama's public schedule."
After that meeting was mentioned, Emerson told Hannity, "That's very interesting because this is the way things are done with Saudi Arabia. You don't arrest their citizens. You deport them, because they don't want them to be embarrassed and that's the way we appease them."
Meanwhile, Tuesday morning, a meeting Secretary of State John Kerry held with the Saudi foreign minister was abruptly closed to press coverage.
WND had reported Wednesday morning that the Saudi student Alharbi shares the same last name as a major Saudi clan that includes scores of al-Qaida operatives.
Some in the clan are senior al-Qaida members while others are reportedly being held by the U.S. in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba.
A large group of federal and state law enforcement agents reportedly raided Alharbi's apartment in Revere, Mass.
CNN reported the search took place by consent, according to a federal law-enforcement source, meaning no search warrant was needed
Then the Saudi embassy in Washington said Alharbi was no longer under detention and is not a suspect in the bomb blasts.
Saudi diplomat Azzam bin Abdel Karim reportedly visited Alharbi in the hospital.
Nail Al-Jubeir, a spokesman for the Saudi mission in Washington, stated that U.S. authorities told the embassy "no Saudi national was a suspect in the Boston Marathon attack and that the Saudi national in question was a witness, not a suspect."
While it is not clear whether the Alharbi questioned as part of the marathon probe is a member of the well-known Saudi clan, his Facebook page, reviewed by WND, lists him as Facebook friends with at least seven other Alharbis, located in both Boston and in Saudi Arabia.
One of the Alharbis on his Facebook friends list, Ahmed Alharbi, is listed as a pharmacy technician at the Saudi Ministry of Health. Most others live in Riyadh.
The Alharbi clan has long been active in al-Qaida. Khaled bin Ouda bin Mohammed al-Harbi, for example, is a Saudi national who joined Osama bin Laden's mujahadeen group in the 1980s. He reportedly became an al-Qaida member in the mid-1990s. He turned himself in to Saudi authorities in 2004 as part of an amnesty deal.
The BBC reported Khaled Alharbi was married to the daughter of al-Qaida's number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri. He reportedly appeared with bin Laden in a video praising the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Another top al-Qaida operative is Adel Radi Saqr al-Wahabi al-Harbi, a Saudi national identified by the State Department as "a key member of an al-Qaida network operating in Iran."
The State Department has offered a multimillion-dollar reward for the capture of Abdel Alharbi, saying he is an Iran-based al-Qaida facilitator who serves as the deputy to Muhsin al-Fadhl, who runs al-Qaida's Iran network.
On his website, Shoebat translated a list of the Saudi government's 85 wanted al-Qaida members.
The list includes several members of the Alharbi clan:
- Badr Saud Uwaid Al-Awufi Al-Harbi
- Muhammad Atiq Uwaid Al-Awufi Al-Harbi
- Khalid Salim Uwaid Al-Lahibi Al-Harbi
- Raed Abdullah Salem Al-Thahiri Al-Harbi
- Abdullah Abdul Rahman Muhammad Al-Harbi (leader)
- Fayez Ghuneim Humeid Al-Hijri Al-Harbi
Shoebat also points out that several Alharbi clan members are being held by the U.S. government at Guantanamo Bay, including Salim Salman Awadallah Al-Saidi Al-Harbi, Majid Abdullah Hussein Al-Harbi, Muhammad Abdullah Saqr Al-Alawi Al-Harbi, Ghanem Abdul Rahman Ghanem Al-Harbi and Muhammad Atiq Uwaid Al-Awfi Al-Harbi.
Shoebat also reported Al-Harbi's visa was up for revocation and his deportation was imminent.
He also reported that according to a YouTube channel used by Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the two Chechen Muslims blamed for the bombing, Alharbi admired Shaykh Feiz Mohammed, an Australian Mulsim preacher who is noted for his fundamentalist Islamist beliefs.