Almost immediately after the Boston Marathon bombings, Glenn Beck fixated on a 20-year old Saudi Arabian student, Abdulrahman Alharbi, who was actually injured in the attacks but was briefly questioned by police. Beck went absolutely ballistic, calling the student a “proven terrorist” and the “money man” behind the bombings.
The radio host urged the U.S. government to release information on Alharbi or Beck would “expose” him. “Let me send this message very clear,” said Beck, who left Fox News in 2011. “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.”
Beck continued days later: “While the media continues to look at what the causes were [behind] these two guys, there are, at this hour, three people involved,” he said, alleging the U.S. government had “tagged” Alharbi as a “proven terrorist.”
The broadcaster eventually called Alharbi an al Qaeda “control agent” and the “money man” behind the attacks. “You know who the Saudi is?” Beck asked. “He’s the money man. He’s the guy who paid for it.”
“Is this speculation or are you reporting something?” a co-host asked.
Beck ignored the question. “He’s the money man.”
And this student, who had nothing whatsoever to do with the attacks, is now suing Beck for defamation.
“Alharbi, like many others, was questioned by federal authorities investigating the events of that day,” says the lawsuit. “…The authorities quickly concluded that Mr. Alharbi, other than being injured in the attacks, had no involvement.
“Beck repeatedly and falsely identified Mr. Alharbi as an active participant, repeatedly questioned the motives of federal officials in failing to pursue or detain Alharbi and repeatedly and falsely accused Mr. Alharbi of being a criminal who had funded the attacks,” the lawsuit says.
Lest we forget, Glenn Beck was far from the only right wing figure who jumped to ridiculously bigoted conclusions about Mr. Alharbi; hate group leaders Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer both immediately labeled him a “jihadi,” based on absolutely no evidence. And the world-renowned Dumbest Man on the Internet, Jim Hoft, actually hunted down photographs of Alharbi and plastered them all over his blog.
And those are just three of the well-known bloggers who defamed Mr. Alharbi for no reason at all. Glenn Beck is the most visible face of wingnut bigotry, but he is not the only hater who incites and participates in these virtual lynch mobs — not by a long shot.