Itching for a Middle East connection

Fox News showed this image repeatedly tonight during its coverage of the Boston bombings.

And what do these three decades-old attacks have in common? All have been blamed on “Islamic terrorists” from the Middle East.

Fox anchor Megyn Kelly said she was showing this image because her guest today had investigated all three events. How an airplane hijacking and two truck bombs intended to bring down buildings related to back-pack sized explosives in Boston was not clear.

But before her guest appeared Kelly got an update from Fox security correspondent Catherine Herridge, who suggested the improvised devices used in the Boston resembled those “of Al Qaeda and the Taliban.”

Back to Kelly and her interview with the forensic investigator, Tom Thurman, who had been involved in Beirut, Lockerbie and the World Trade Center bombings.

Again the image of Beirut and the other attacks appears on screen:

Kelly introduces Thurman and after some preliminary questions, she finally reached her prime suspicion. Based on his past experiences, she asked hesitantly: “Do you have… a feeling…. this could be Al Qaeda or international Jihad?”

Thurman hesitated to make the linkage Kelly was asking for. He said the items used in the blast could be assembled by anyone with access to the internet.

“It is virtually impossible to prevent anyone from making their own explosives,” Thurman explained.

But Kelly still had another guest lined up, “terrorism expert” Steven Emerson:

Partially satisfying Kelly’s nagging Middle East suspicion, Emerson noted that the reported use of ball bearings in the explosive devices “bore the hallmarks of jihadists.”

But when Kelly raised reports about a “Saudi person of interest” Emerson said this suspect had already been “ruled out.”

“I didn’t hear that this has been ruled out,” Kelly exclaimed incredulously.

Emerson then assured Kelly that he had “sources” on the ruling out. Still unsure Kelly added that this would be a major development, “if confirmed.”

But during the commercial break, the Fox News team was able to confirm Emerson’s source.

Kelly came back on air, saying that the “Saudi person of interest… who had come to the US on a student visa” has been “ruled out” as a suspect.

Kelly raised her eyes inquisitively: “Where does the investigation go from here?”

Cut to commercial.

***

Fox had proved its own suspicion was baseless, but it had still managed to use the words “Jihad” or “Al Qaeda” at least half a dozen times during the short segment, while showing images of Middle Eastern attacks and referencing “a Saudi suspect.”

I wonder how uncomfortable it is to be a Saudi on a student visa living in Boston right now.

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