A 14-year-old North Texas high school freshman says school officials overreacted when they called police after thinking his elaborate digital homemade clock invention was a hoax bomb but the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) also stepped in with a little overreacting of their own, alleging the incident as Islamophobia.
Police detained Ahmed Mohamed, who attends MacArthur High School in the Dallas suburb of Irving, on Monday for questioning. The teen brought a clock invention to his classes that resembled a hoax bomb to school officials, according to WFAA (ABC).
The Dallas Morning News described it as a circuit board and a power supply wired to a digital display, all strapped inside a case with a tiger hologram on the front. Apparently, Mohamed created it from a digital clock he took apart and rearranged in what the Dallas print news outlet described as a “circuit-stuffed pencil case.”
When Mohamed plugged the clock it into an electrical outlet during his English period, it started to beep in the middle of class. The teen showed his invention to the teacher but she reacted with confiscating the clock. “She was like, it looks like a bomb,” Mohamed told the newspaper.
Mohamed, who has won awards for previous inventions, says the local ABC affiliate, insisted it was only a clock created over the weekend and he said he brought it to school to show his engineer teacher earlier that day.
Police reacted to the possibility of a bomb threat by arresting the 14-year-old. They took the handcuffed youth to juvenile detention. However, the boy’s reaction to police questioning may not have helped to clear his name sooner. Officers described Mohamed as “passive aggressive” in his responses to their questions and did not have a “reasonable answer” to explain the situation while investigators said the student told them it was just a clock he was tinkering with as a project, according to the Dallas Morning News.
“We have no information that he claimed it was a bomb,” Irving police officer James McLellan stated, according to the newspaper. “He kept maintaining it was a clock, but there was no broader explanation.”
McLellan added, “It could reasonably be mistaken as a device if left in a bathroom or under a car. The concern was, what was this thing built for? Do we take him into custody?”
The school seized Mohamed’s clock and the principal suspended him for three days, said the teen. Police may still charge him with making a hoax bomb, although they acknowledge that Mohamed told everyone “who would listen” that it was only a clock, the Dallas Morning News also reported. Mohamed said officers searched his belongings and questioned his intentions. The teen claimed, “They were like ‘So you tried to make a bomb?” to which he insisted he was only trying to make a clock. He said that the principal threatened to expel him if he did not make a written statement.
The boy’s father, Mohamed Elhassen Mohamed, a Sudanese-born man and Dallas Sufi imam, made national headlines in 2011 for debating Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who burned a Koran. Mohamed claimed this incident with his son only happened “because his name is Mohamed and because of September 11,” according to the Dallas Morning News.
Already, CAIR’s Dallas Executive Director Alia Salem asserted the teen only was targeted because of his religious and racial identity. “I think this wouldn’t even be a question if his name wasn’t Ahmed Mohamed,” she insisted to the local NBC TV news outlet.
However, non-Muslim families across the state have told Breitbart Texas similar accounts of district administrators threatening their children with alternative disciplinary school, suspension, expulsion and even criminal charges following demands for written confessions in grueling interrogation-like sessions where students are questioned over alleged and/or perceived wrongdoing. Breitbart Texas reports on the school-to-prison pipeline and the often devastating outcomes of choking zero tolerance policies.
In response to the incident, Irving Independent School District (ISD) spokeswoman Lesley Weaver released a statement to the local news affiliate. “We always ask our students and staff to immediately report if they observe any suspicious items and/or suspicious behavior,” she wrote. “If something is out of the ordinary, the information should be reported immediately to a school administrator and/or the police so it can be addressed right away. We will always take necessary precautions to protect our students and keep our school community as safe as possible.”
Mohamed, his father, and CAIR attorneys intend to meet with the principal and police chief this afternoon.
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.