Authorities defend schoolboy’s ‘hoax-bomb’ arrest

By Bob Unruh

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Since 9/11, the policy in the United States regarding suspicious activities, according to the Department of Homeland Security, is that if you “See something, say something.”

“Across the nation, we’re all part of communities. In cities, on farms, and in the suburbs, we share everyday moments with our neighbors, colleagues, family, and friends. It’s easy to take for granted the routine moments in our every day – going to work or school, the grocery store or the gas station. But your every day is different than your neighbor’s – filled with the moments that make it uniquely yours. So if you see something you know shouldn’t be there – or someone’s behavior that doesn’t seem quite right – say something,” the government instructs.

“Report suspicious activity to local law enforcement.”

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So when a Texas school teacher noticed a suspicious electronic beeping in her classroom and discovered a student had brought a computer circuit board wired to a power supply and a digital display, she started asking questions.

The teacher asked the student, Ahmed Mohamed, to hand it over, “as it looked like a bomb.”

The student refused.

The teacher called police.

The student’s digital clock has become a national story, lighting up social media and prompting an invitation to the White House from President Obama. He’s been invited to science events and tech companies. He’s boasting about how he has gone viral. Reports Friday said Mohamed won’t return to MacArthur High School in Irving because of being handcuffed there and taken by police.

“The only real news I have for you is that Ahmed’s not going back to MacArthur,” family spokesperson Alia Salem from the Council on American-Islamic Relations told a reporter with the Daily Beast. “But, we’re about to drive to the television studio in a minute. Why don’t you come along? Sit next to Ahmed, you can ask him your questions.”

But WFAA reported Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne said on a Facebook posting, “I do not fault the school or the police for looking into what they saw as a potential threat.”

And police spokesman James McLellan said that when questioned, the student “kept maintaining it was a clock, but there was no broader explanation,” such as why it was assembled and why it was beeping in class.

The London Guardian reported Irving school spokeswoman Lesley Weaver said the teacher’s actions weren’t unreasonable.

The device was suspicious to the teacher.

“We will always take necessary precautions to protect our students and to keep our school community as safe as possible,” Weaver said.

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She said the reaction, such as President Obama’s invitation for the student to bring the clock to the White House, perhaps developed because people weren’t aware of the fact that the item appeared to be a threat.

“Perhaps upon release of that photo there may be a little bit different perception about what took place, and people might have a better understanding of how we were doing everything with an abundance of caution to protect all of our students in Irving.”

Al Jazeera reported the student claims “this happened to him because he is Muslim.”

The report quoted the 14-year-old saying, “There is a lot of stereotypes for people who are foreigners and they have … names mainly in Islam.”

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The Los Angeles Times noted the student’s instant fame.

“Once upon a time, if you did something famous you got to look into a camera and tell the world that you are going to Disneyland. That’s just about the only place that is not on the itinerary of Ahmed Mohamed, the Texas student who made a clock that a teacher feared was a bomb, setting off a series of events that turned the ninth-grader into a social-media symbol of official overreaction to his Muslim religion.”

The paper said Topsy, which watches social media, reported close to a million people “jumped on his bandwagon and sent out tweets with the supportive hashtag #IstandwithAhmed.”

School and police officials said that when they resolved their questions about the circuit board and wires they pursued no further actions.

Irving Police Chief Larry Boyd confirmed officers acted properly given what they knew at the time, and he said the student’s race or religion made no difference.

He referenced the computer display, the circuit board and power source, all concealed inside a box, saying, “You can’t take things like that to school.”

But Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a statement supporting the student.

The Dallas Morning News reported he said, “The last thing we want to do is put handcuffs on a kid unjustifiably. … It looks like the commitment to law enforcement may have gone too far and didn’t balance all the facts.”

And Obama said on Twitter: “Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great.”

In response, Bristol Palin charged Obama’s actions are sparking more “racial strife” than the Black Lives Matter movement.

“This is the kind of stuff Obama needs to STAY out of,” she wrote on Pantheos. “This encourages more racial strife that is already going on with the ‘Black Lives Matter’ crowd and encourages victimhood.”

Palin said “childish games like this from our president have divided our country … even more today than when he was elected.”

A black Georgia teen posted a video challenging Obama.

“When cops are gunned down,” said CJ Pearson, who hails from the Augusta area, “you don’t invite them to the White House. You never did. But when a Muslim builds a clock, come on by. What is this world you’re living in?”

Just as Obama was inviting the student to the White House, Reddit and Twitter were offering him internships and Facebook’s chief invited him to visit.

The Daily Beast reported Mohamed was watching “himself trend” on his iPhone.

One of his videos has been viewed 24 million times.

“This is seven digits! It’s 24 million views, in 24 hours,'” Ahmed said. “I feel like I could just walk on the street and people would know who I am.”

The writer, Randy Potts, said Ahmed’s story “struck such a nerve because the world saw a model student thrown in handcuffs like a suspect whose crime was being brown.”

“Where most would see a white kid holding a crude electronic clock, the school apparently saw a Muslim terrorist.”

“Ever heard that phrase, ’15 minutes of fame?'” the writer says he told the student.

“Ahmed looks at me, fat grin on his face: ‘This is gonna be soooooo much longer.'”

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