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Neighbor Discusses Saudi Man Cleared In Bombing Probe

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AP Photo / JOSH REYNOLDS

The investigation of Monday's Boston Marathon bombing had brought them to the floor of Sabri's building on Ocean Avenue in this seaside city a few miles north of Boston. They were there to search an apartment a few doors down from Sabri's, the home of a young Saudi man who had been injured in the attack. The police asked Sabri and his brothers if they could ask them some questions.

"We said yeah, he's a friend of ours," Sabri, 21, told TPM in an interview on Tuesday. "[He's] loving and generous."

Sabri's down-the-hall neighbor was in a Boston hospital, and had been among those questioned by law enforcement in the aftermath of the incident. Media reports on Monday had suggested that the man was a person of interest or even a suspect in the case. But by Tuesday, lawmakers and officials said that he was being regarded as merely a victim and a witness.

"Very nice guy, ambitious about his future, passionate about his life," Sabri told TPM, speaking of his neighbor.

Sabri said he and his brothers asked the officers if they were there in connection to Monday's bombing, but officers said they couldn't say. It was only when Sabri saw later media reports about the search that he knew for sure what was going on.

Sabri, who grew up in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, moved to the U.S. two years ago and currently studies medical biology at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Boston. He hopes to become a physician. He told TPM that the man who was injured on Monday attends New England School of English with one of his brothers. One of the injured man's roommates attends college along with Sabri. According to Sabri, they are all part of a tight-knit group of Saudis who live in the large building. They hang out together, and go to movies. Sabri thought one of his brothers had been down to the injured man's apartment once or twice.

"A lot of Saudis in this building," he said. "We are very neighborly and connected to each other."

In fact, Sabri said, on Tuesday he had texted the man in the hospital to check in. During the interview with TPM, Sabri checked to see if he had gotten any response.

"No, no answer," he said.

Sabri said that the law enforcement agents in the building Monday night had been "helpful" and "respectful." Around 8 p.m., there had been another knock at the door. This time, it was the FBI.

"They asked us to go downstairs for our safety," Sabri said.

After 20 minutes down in the lobby, Sabri and other residents of his floor were allowed back up and told that there was nothing to worry about. A few hours later, Sabri had to leave his apartment. It was his laundry day.

"At 12 [a.m.], I asked if it was ok to do my laundry," Sabri said. "They said it was ok."

Asked if, in the aftermath of an incident such as Monday's, he was wary of any reaction from other people who identify him as a foreigner, Sabri said no.

"My impressions of Americans are they are generous," Sabri said. "They love the kind people, like Saudis."

On Tuesday, Sabri invited this reporter in for a mug of orange juice on ice and date cookies.

"I just hope they find those responsible," Sabri said. "Let's hope Boston and the whole world will be safe. God bless America."

After leaving Sabri's apartment, TPM knocked on the door of the injured man's apartment. There was no answer.

About The Author

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Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website?s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl@talkingpointsmemo.com