Boston, April 19: Internet junkies and armchair investigators have made the life a Moroccon teenager a hell. They branded him the Boston bomber along with his friend.
Salah Eddin Barhoum, 17, and friend Yassine Zaime's photos were posted on websites whose users have been scouring marathon finish line photos for suspects. On Wednesday armchair investigators on the message board Reddit quickly ID'd the pair as possible suspects, but then almost as quickly, deemed them innocent after finding their Facebook pages and other easy-to-find online information.
The two were also on the Post's front Thursday with the headline: "Bag men: Feds seek these two pictured at Boston Marathon."
The photos show Barhoum with a black Nike athletic bag, wearing a blue and black track suit. Zaime is carrying a black backpack, wearing a white cap and black track clothes.
Later in the day, the newspaper reported that the pair weren't considered suspects.
In a statement, New York Post editor Col Allan said, "we stand by our story. The image was emailed to law enforcement agencies yesterday afternoon seeking information about these men, as our story reported. We did not identify them as suspects."
However, Barhoum, who is a track runner at Revere High School, fears that damage has been done and someone will blame him for the bombings. Barhoum felt that he's been labeled a suspect because of his bag and his brown skin.
The teeanager did not know that he was being branded as a suspect till he saw a man in a car staring at him and talking into a phone.
Barhoum's father, El Houssein Barhoum, who moved his family from Morocco five years ago, said he is worried his son will be shot and fears for his wife and two young daughters. The father has also stopped going to work. He works as a baker in Boston.
Barhoum was at the marathon with Zaime, a friend from the running club, hoping to run a portion of it but could not.
The fiasco was a replay of Richard Jewell case. Jewell, a security guard was wrongly accused of the Centennial Olympic Park bombing in the 1996 Summer Olympics. He was, however, exonerated but not before being labeled a criminal and pilloried nationwide.
Barhoum says he won't feel safe until the bombers are caught.