- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 24, 2014

Former Fox News media personality Glenn Beck has been sued for defamation by a Saudi victim of the Boston Marathon bombings. Immediately following the attacks, many news shows devoted significant attention to the investigations related to the attack, as did Mr. Beck.

During Mr. Beck’s episodes on the investigation, he gave significant attention to Abdulrahman Alharbi, a Saudi Arabian student who was briefly questioned in relation to the attack and later released by the authorities. Mr. Alharbi was deemed by authorities to be a witness to the attacks, and not a participant in them. He was later treated for injuries stemming from the attack.

According to CourtHouse News, “Many news outlets reported the facts of the search of an apartment and that authorities had questioned a man of Middle Eastern descent. When the authorities concluded that Mr. Alharbi had no involvement, reports ceased.

“The defendant Glenn Beck, with the active participation of the distributor defendants, repeatedly and falsely identified Mr. Alharbi as an active participant in the crimes that were committed on April 15, 2013, repeatedly questioned the motives of federal officials in failing to pursue or detain Mr. Alharbi and repeatedly and falsely accused Mr. Alharbi of being a criminal who had funded the attacks that took place at the Boston Marathon.

Those statements were made widely and publicly. The statements were false and did grave injury to the plaintiff.”

During the episodes on the topic, according to the Washington Post, Mr. Beck said “Let me send this message very clear. We know who this Saudi national is…. We know who this man is and, listen to me carefully, we know he is a very bad, bad, bad man.”

For several days after Mr. Alharbi had been cleared by the authorities, Mr. Beck continued to devote attention to the idea that Mr. Alharbi was an accomplice. The Washington Post continued to quote Mr. Beck as saying “You know who the Saudi is? He’s the money man. He’s the guy who paid for it,” seemingly referencing funding for the attack on the Boston Marathon.

According to the legal complaint, “Alharbi has received numerous messages, internet postings and other communications based on Beck’s false statements accusing him of being a murderer, child killer and terrorist.” As of yet, neither Mr. Beck nor his attorneys have responded to the allegations.

Muslims have often falsely been accused of terrorism, and after clearing their names, have sued the individuals responsible for unwarranted accusations. In April 2013, The Atlantic pointed out that three innocent individuals were falsely accused of terrorism in the Boston Marathon attacks, and opined about the lessons that should be learned from misdirected accusations.

In 2012, ABC News reported “A black, Muslim woman has sued the University of Bridgeport for allegedly reporting her to the FBI rather than investigating her sexual harassment complaints against a fellow student at the Connecticut school.

“Balayla Ahmad, 35, said the school ignored her repeated reports of harassment and instead falsely accused her of being a terrorist because she was an African-American Muslim, according to a federal complaint.”

In the United Kingdom, after false accusations that he was a terrorist, Muhammad Hussain, a police worker, won a nearly £14,000 award in damages from his accusers.

In 2010, the United States issued an extremely rare apology (and a two million dollar settlement) to Brandon Mayfield, a US Military veteran and adherent of Islam, after a terror attack in Madrid, Spain. The Christian Science Monitor reports “Federal authorities planted listening devices in his office, throughout his house – including in his bedroom – and tapped his phones.

“He and his family were kept under surveillance. Agents conducted ‘sneak and peak’ searches, entering the home when the family was away. The agents were so clumsy the family thought they had been burglarized.

“Eventually, Mayfield was arrested as a material witness and imprisoned for two weeks although authorities did not possess the requisite probable cause to believe he’d committed a crime.”

It was later found that Mr. Mayfield had no connection to any terror attack, and the only reasons he was suspected were the presence of his fingerprints in government databases and the fact that he was a Muslim. As members of the U.S. Armed Forces commonly do, Mr. Mayfield had submitted his fingerprints to his superiors for record keeping.

Last week, NJ.com reported the New York Police Department announced the closing of a multi-year surveillance program designed to spy on Muslims not accused of any crimes. The NYPD surveillance program resulted in a lawsuit filed by U.S. Army veteran Farhaj Hassan, who challenged the program’s activities.

The infamously dubbed NYPD “Spy Unit” followed Muslims to their places of work, worship, and social gatherings in an attempt to generate leads on terrorism. Despite several years of surveillance operations, the Associated Press reports that the program never resulted in any investigations, or even a single lead into any case related to terrorism.

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