Right-wing conservative pundit Glenn Beck has been sued for defamation after he accused a Muslim victim of the Boston Marathon bombing of funding the attacks. Abdulrahman Alharbi, who was 19-years-old when he was injured at the Boston Marathon, filed a federal lawsuit against Beck and the companies The Blaze Inc., Mercury Radio Arts, and Beck’s radio syndicator Premiere Radio Network.
Proceeding shortly after the attacks, federal authorities implicated Alharbi as a possible suspect. Alharbi was first questioned as a witness and then allowed authorities to search his apartment. The authorities then determined that Alharbi was not involved in the attacks and dropped their investigation of him. But apparently that wasn’t enough for Beck.
Beck continued his accusations after the feds stopped pursuing Alharbi as a potential suspect. Almost a year since the attack and Beck went on air where he “repeatedly and falsely identified Mr. Alharbi as an active participant in the crimes that were committed on April 15.” Beck also questioned why federal authorities didn’t arrest or detain Alharbi.
“Let me just say this to those at the highest echelons of government,” said Beck on April 21, 2013. “We know who this Saudi national is, and it is in your best interest and the best interest of integrity and trust for the people of the United States of America. You have until (April 22). We have information on who this man is, (and) we know he is a very bad, bad, bad man.”
Beck continued to call Alharbi the “money man,” saying “You know who the Saudi is? . . . He’s the guy who paid for it.”
When a co-host asked Beck if he was reporting or speculating, Beck ignored the question and answered “He’s the money man.”
According to the lawsuit, Beck’s statement led to Alharbi receiving random messages calling him a “murderer, child killer, and terrorist.” “Those statements were made widely and publicly,” claimed the suit. “The statements were false and did grave injury to the plaintiff.”
“All the police officers and the FBI . . . and all the nurses and all the doctors were staring at me,” said Alharbi last May. “I was looking [at] them like, is it because of the color of my skin, or is it because of the name of my country?”
Boston Magazine reported that this isn’t the first lawsuit to culminate from the media’s false accusations of perceived suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing. The New York Post plastered the pictures of two Boston men wearing bags on their heads and were dubbed the “Bag Men” and curried suspicion from the New York Post. They sued the paper for libel and that case is still pending.
Josh is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. Follow him on Twitter @dnJdeli.