American Planes Diverted After ISIS-Inspired Twitter Threats

David Goldman / Associated Press
David Goldman / Associated Press

Five planes throughout the United States were diverted or immediately grounded due to various security threats over the weekend.

A threat to a Sunday Los Angeles-to-Orlando flight that was diverted to Dallas came from a Twitter user who claimed to be a member of the Islamic State terror group. One of the tweets read, “We have planted explosives on Delta Flight #1061 from LA to Orlando, we are ISIS, we are here, you won’t be.” Another tweet directed at Delta Airlines said, “We planted explosives on board flight #1061 heading to Orlando our soldiers waiting for signal.” In a third tweet, the Twitter user wrote, “@DeltaAssist We are coming for you, ISIS is here.”

The Twitter account in question used the name of a 20-year-old British man, Junaid Hussain, who is reportedly responsible for hacking the U.S. Central Command’s Twitter account. Hussain is believed to be part of an ISIS-supporting hacking group called Cyber Caliphate.

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Laura Eimiller, the FBI spokeswoman for its Los Angeles bureau, told SFGate that the bomb threats directed at the Seattle-bound flights were from the Internet. She added that agents have not yet determined whether the threats to the Seattle-Bound JetBlue and Delta/SkyWest flights were related. A Twitter user who goes by the handle “Technase” wrote to JetBlue on Sunday, “@JetBlue bomb on flight JBU1006 set to detonate in 25 minutes, You’re JetBlue da ba dee da ba da.”

An FBI spokesperson said regarding Saturday’s threatened flights that officers are continuing to follow leads, but have not yet found the individuals responsible for making the threats directed at the Atlanta-bound flights, which resulted in the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)’s scrambling of two F-16 jets to escort the planes. A spokesman for NORAD confirmed to the AP that the threats were posted on Twitter.

With the Twitter threats came a heavy economic burden. Scrambling a single F-16 jet costs roughly $22,514 per flight hour, according to Time magazine. The threats also activated and diverted additional emergency service resources, which include specialized police and K9 units, as well as ambulance and fire fighting apparatuses.