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Monday, April 22, 2013
WND Pushes Another Dubious Claim From Walid Shoebat
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily continues its irresponsible behavior in reporting on the Boston Marathon bombings with an April 19 article by Bob Unruh, in which he uncritically repeats the unsubstantiated claim that Michelle Obama visited Abdul Rahman Ali Issa Al-Salimi Alharbi -- a former “person of interest” in theh bombing who has since been cleared -- while visiting a Boston hospital and meeting with victims of the bombing.

The only source Unruh cites for this claim is the notoriously unreliable Walid Shoebat -- who has been credibly accused of of lying about his own past as a self-proclaimed Islamic terrorist-turned-Christian -- who in turn cites a report in a Saudi Arabian newspaper named Okaz. Unruh makes no mention of Shoebat offering any verification of the claim other than citing "tweets from members of the Alharbi family."

Unruh is weirdly eager to boost the credibility of the unverified claim by talking up the alleged good reputation of Okaz:

The newspaper is more than half a century old and publishes out of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. It also publishes simultaneously in Riyadh.

One of the oldest newspapers in Saudi Arabia, it also is brave, taking on banned issues such as lesbianism in the repressive Islamic kingdom. Its circulation is estimated at about 150,000 and the online version was reported by Forbes Middle East two years ago to be one of the Top 10 online newspapers in the Middle East region.

In fact, all Unruh seems to have done is rewrite claims taken off the Wikipedia page for the paper -- ironic since WND has been trying to discredit Wikipedia for years.

Unruh also repeated a pair of false and/or libelous claims:

  • "WND reported earlier when an expert on terrorism said Alharbi, the original 'person of interest' in the Monday bombing, was going to be deported on national security grounds." He curiously didn't name his expert, Steve Emerson -- perhaps because his assertion has been discredited.
  • "WND had reported Wednesday morning that the Saudi student Alharbi shares the same last name as a major Saudi clan that includes scores of al-Qaida operatives." As we've documented, WND is implying without proof that Alharbi is a terrorist, which exposes it to a potential libel action from Alharbi if the claim is indeed false.

You'd think that a veteran of three decades in journalism, part of that time with the Associated Press, would know better than to write a story with a single source whose veracity is highly questionable, or to repeat claims that are demonstrably false or potentially libelous. But Joseph Farah is not paying Unruh to follow time-tested journalistic ethics.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:42 AM EDT

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