Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said during a Senate hearing Tuesday that the Saudi student who was once a person of interest in the Boston Marathon bombings was, at one point, on a watch list.
Ms. Napolitano, responding to a question from Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, emphatically denied that Abdul Rahman Ali Alharbi had been targeted by federal authorities prior to the April 15 bombings, before conceding that he briefly was afterwards.
“Before the [Tsarnaev] brothers became the focus of the investigation, authorities questioned a Saudi student who reportedly was on a terror watch list,” Mr. Grassley said during the hearing, according to the Blaze. “With regard to the Saudi student, was he on a watch list, and if so, how did he obtain a student visa?”
Ms. Napolitano replied, “He 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.
“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,” she said.
Ms. Napolitano dismissed a similar question Thursday from Rep. Jeff Duncan, South Carolina Republican, who asked about the student’s alleged deportation.
“I am not going to answer that question it is so full of misstatements and misapprehension that it’s just not worthy of an answer,” she said. “There’s been so much reported on this that’s been wrong I can’t even begin to tell you, congressman. We will provide you with accurate information as it becomes available.”