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Teen stunned at portrayal as bombing suspect

Posted: April 18, 2013 5:45 p.m.
Updated: April 18, 2013 5:54 p.m.

Salah Eddin Barhoum sits in his apartment in Revere, Mass., Thursday, April 18, 2013, with one of the trophies he won in an athletic competition, and the bag he was carrying on Monday near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

 

REVERE, Mass. (AP) — A teenager said he is scared to go outside after he was portrayed on the Internet and on the front page of the New York Post as connected to the Boston Marathon bombings.

Photos of Salah Eddin Barhoum, 17, and friend Yassine Zaime were posted on websites whose users have been scouring marathon finish line photos for suspects. The two were also on the Post's front Thursday with the headline: "Bag men: Feds seek these two pictured at Boston Marathon."

The Post reported later Thursday that the men weren't considered suspects, and the FBI has since identified two other men as suspects in the bombings Monday that killed three and injured more than 180.

But Barhoum, a track runner at Revere High School, said he is convinced some will blame him for the bombings, no matter what.

He was so fearful on Thursday that he ran back to the high school after a track meet when he saw a man in a car staring at him, talking into a phone, he said.

Barhoum added he received more than 200 messages online Wednesday, with one commenter from Oregon asking: "How could you do that? Did you even think about the consequences?"

Barhoum said he won't feel safe until the actual bombers are caught.

"I'm going to be scared going to school," Barhoum said. "Workwise, my family, everything is going to be scary."

Attempts to reach Zaime were not immediately successful.

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 also fears for his wife and two young daughters. He said he can't go to his job as a baker in Boston.

"Right now, we are not secure," he said. "So, the news (media), when they put something, they should be sure about the information."

A message requesting comment was left with a spokeswoman for the Post. In a statement to the Washington Post, 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."

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.

Men with bags at the marathon have been a focus of Internet scrutiny, because officials believe that is how the bombers carried in the explosives.

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