Following the marathon bombing, Beck repeatedly accused Alharbi of funding and having an active role in the attack, even after he was cleared by federal investigators. The Saudi national filed a federal lawsuit in response to the slander.
Alharbi, who was 20 years old at the time, was injured in the attack, questioned as a witness, and had his apartment searched by authorities. It was quickly determined that he had no role in the bombing.
The government clearing his name didn’t seem to mean much to Beck though, who continued to insist upon Alharbi’s guilt.
“Let me just say this to those at the highest echelons of government,” Beck said, speaking of Alharbi on April 21, 2013, “we know who this Saudi national is, and it is in your best interest and the best interest of integrity and trust for the people of United States of America – it’s best coming from you, not coming from a news organization. It’s best coming from you. You have until (April 22). We have information on who this man is, (and) we know he is a very bad, bad, bad man.”
Beck claimed that he had information on Alharbi that was leaked to him by “patriots” within the government.
Alharbi was subsequently threatened and called a murderer, child killer, and terrorist by people who believed Beck’s claims.
Beck has repeatedly attempted to have the suit dismissed, but has not been successful.
Now, the judge has allowed a count of unjust enrichment to be added to the lawsuit. The charge is used when one person is unjustly or by chance enriched at the expense of another, and an obligation to make restitution arises, regardless of liability for wrongdoing.
For example, the charge was recently used by former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura in a lawsuit against the estate of American Sniper Chris Kyle, which went to court after his shooting death.
Kyle had written in his memoir, and stated in an interview with Bill O’Reilly, that he had once knocked Ventura to the ground and gave him a black eye during a bar brawl. The former sniper claimed that Ventura had said that the SEALs “deserved to lose a few” over fighting an unjust war in Iraq.
Ventura was awarded $500,000 for defamation, and $1.35 million for unjust enrichment — which is to be paid by Kyle’s estate.
The present case depends on Alharbi proving that his reputation was harmed by Beck’s statements, which implied to his audience that Alharbi is a terrorist. As private citizens have a lower standard of proof than public figures, Beck’s lawyers attempted to have Alharbi identify as a public figure. The judge rejected that motion.