Saudi National Questioned in Boston Attack was on Terror Watch List

Todd Starnes

4/22/2013 9:16:00 AM - Todd Starnes

The Saudi national who was initially detained and then ruled out as a suspect in the Boston Marathon terrorist attack had been flagged on a terror watch list and was granted a student visa without being properly vetted, sources have told me.

A source close to the investigation revealed that the Saudi national had been deemed inadmissible under the section of the Immigration and Nationality Act which declares ineligible for a visa – any alien who is engaged in or is likely to engage after entry – in terrorist activity.

At least two additional sources have confirmed to me that the Saudi national is set to be deported as early as this week, contrary to statements made by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

The House Homeland Security Committee is now requesting a classified briefing with Napolitano to get to the bottom of the issue, according to an exclusive report from The Blaze.

Napolitano denied anyone was being deported in a heated exchange Thursday with Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) during a House hearing.

“I am unaware of anyone who is being deported for national security concerns at all related to Boston,” she said. “I don’t know where that rumor came from.”

The Homeland Security chief said the Saudi national was not “technically a person of interest or a suspect, that was a wash.”

But Duncan questioned the wisdom of deporting someone who was at the scene of a terrorist attack.

“Wouldn’t you agree with me that it is negligent for us, as an American administration, to deport someone who was reportedly at the scene of the bombing, and we are going to deport him, not to be able to question him anymore, is that not negligent,” Duncan asked.

Napolitano refused to answer the question.

“It is so full of misstatements and misapprehensions, that it is just not worthy of any answer,” she replied. “There has been so much reported on this that has been wrong. I can’t even begin to tell you, congressman.”

Last week Steven Emerson, of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, told Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity that Alharbi had been set to be deported “on national security grounds.”

“You don’t arrest their citizens – you deport them,” Emerson said regarding the Saudis.

An Immigration and Customs Enforcement official told me that it was a case a “Saudi being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

The official, with knowledge of the case, said Alharbi’s status has changed – but as it now stands – he will be sent back home.

“They don’t like the negative press,” the official said of the Saudis. “The guess is he will probably be allowed to leave without a lot of hype in order to avoid political sensitivities with the Saudis.”

ICE sources told The Blaze that a separate Saudi national was in custody -- and that individual was in no way affiliated with the Boston attacks.