8 Men Falsely Linked to Terror Attacks, From Abu Izzadeen to Richard Jewell (Photos)
One wrongly identified man begged reporters: “verify before you vilify”
Tim Molloy | March 24, 2017 @ 11:59 AM
Last Updated: March 25, 2017 @ 10:20 AM
When will the news media learn to take a beat before falsely linking people to horrible crimes? It happened again this week. Here are eight people wrongly linked to terrorist attacks they had no involvement in.
After the deadly London terror attacks, several media outlets rushed to identify Abu Izzadeen (aka Trevor Brooks) as the perpetrator. But later reports said he had a very solid alibi: He was behind bars for an unrelated offense at the time of the attack.
Police later named 52-year-old Khalid Masood, who was shot dead at the scene, as the real London perpetrator.
Security guard Richard Jewell was first called a hero for spotting an abandoned green knapsack at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and leading people away before it exploded. But news outlets later reported he was a possible suspect. He said reporters swept in “like piranha on a bleeding cow.” Jewell, who was completely cleared of wrongdoing, died in 2007 at age 44. NBC, CNN and the New York Post all settled lawsuits he filed against with him. The Atlanta Journal did not, and eventually beat a defamation claim.
The actual culprit behind the Olympic bombing was white nationalist terrorist Eric Rudolph, who went on to bomb two abortion clinics and a lesbian bar before going into hiding in 1998. He was apprehended in 2003.
The New York Post settled a defamation suit with 16-year-old Salaheddin Barhoum and 24-year-old Yassine Zaimi after wrongly linking them to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. The two displayed the headline "BAG MEN" over pictures of them holding bags.
The bombings were actually carried out by brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
In July 2016, police said they were seeking Mark Hughes in the killing of five Dallas police officers who were shot during a rally to protest police killings of unarmed black men in other cities. Hughes had been wearing a camouflage T-shirt and holding a gun, which was within his Second Amendment rights. After police tweeted his image, Hughes quickly turned himself in, and police concluded that he was not involved.
Police determined that the real killer, who also injured nine officers, was identified as Micah Xavier Johnson. He was killed by a police robot -- apparently the first time police had used a robot to kill a suspect.
Retired Navy lieutenant Rollie Chance was horrified to be misidentified by CBS and NBC as the suspect in the 2013 Washington Navy Yard shootings that killed 13 people. He implored the news media to be more careful: "Verify before you vilify." The networks retracted their initial reporting.
In November 2015, someone photoshopped an image of Veerender Jubbal, a Toronto man who follows the Sikh religion, to make him appear to be one of the perpetrators of the Paris terror attacks. A picture in which he was holding an iPad was altered to make it look like a Quran, and he was portrayed wearing a suicide-bomb vest. He shared the original image to show how maliciously he had been framed. But several news outlets used the fake photo.
After an attack at an Islamic center in Quebec City, Canada, that killed six and injured 17 last month, police incorrectly reported that two male suspects were in custody and Fox News erroneously reported that one suspect was of “Moroccan origin.” That fed into a narrative (see tweet, left) that the killer was a refugee.