Another Saudi Man Interrogated in Michigan Over Pressure Cooker

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A Saudi Arabian man was arrested in Detroit after authorities said he made a false statement about why he brought a pressure cooker with him on a flight from Amsterdam, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney in Detroit said on Monday. […]

Authorities said he initially said he brought the cooker with him for his nephew, who is a university student in Toledo, Ohio. He later changed that story and was arrested on suspicion of making a false statement, the spokeswoman said.

This is the second case of this kind in a week. On Friday, local media reported that a Saudi student in Michigan has been interrogated by the FBI after he was seen carrying a pressure cooker outside his house. Two pressure cookers were used in the Boston Marathon bombing on April 15, killing three people and injuring 264.

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Why Did FBI Question a Saudi Student in Michigan?

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A Saudi student in the US state of Michigan has been interrogated by the FBI after he was seen carrying a pressure cooker outside his house, Saudi Gazette reported. Talal al-Rouqi said he was taking the pressure cooker to the apartment of a fellow student to prepare Kabsa, a popular Saudi dish of rice and meat.

According to the newspaper, the FBI rushed to al-Rouqi’s apartment after receiving a call from a neighbor who said the ash-colored cooker looked like the one used in Boston Marathon bombing last month. Authorities searched his apartment and inspected the pressure cooker but found nothing unusual.

“They asked me about taking a pressure cooker outside the apartment,” he said. “I explained to them that I took this to the apartment of my friend, who is also a scholarship student, to prepare Kabsa as dinner.”

Two pressure cookers were used in the Boston Marathon bombing on April 15. The explosions killed three people and injured 264. When the news first came out, many Saudis expressed fear that one of their countrymen could be involved in the bombings. However, investigations later pointed to two brothers originally from Chechnya as the main suspects in the attack.

Al-Rouqi said the FBI officers asked him many questions in a gentle manner and warned him “not to venture out again with the pressure cooker.”

Fanning the Flames of Hate

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Sabria S. Jawhar:

There is no excuse for fanning the flames of hate by suggesting during the most emotional and tense hours after the bombing that an Arab was in custody for the bombings. In reality, he was treated at a nearby hospital, questioned along with hundreds of other witnesses, and eventually sent on his way.

Yet The New York Post and CBS News, among other news agencies, latched on to the story because it provided in the minds of the editors tangible evidence that only Islamic extremists could be responsible for such a horrific event.

Around Where the Logic Stops

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Amy Davidson writes in the New Yorker about the young injured Saudi man who was called a suspect in the Boston bombings by some US media outlets like the New York Post:

What made them suspect him? He was running—so was everyone. The bystander handed the man to the police, who reportedly thought he smelled like explosives; his wounds might have suggested why. He said something about thinking there would be a second bomb—as there was, and often is, to target responders. If that was the reason he gave for running, it was a sensible one. He asked if anyone was dead—a question people were screaming. And he was from Saudi Arabia, which is around where the logic stops. Was it just the way he looked, or did he, in the chaos, maybe call for God with a name that someone found strange?

It was reported later that he was a witness, not a suspect.