If they thought Ahmed brought a ‘bomb’, why didn’t they evacuate the school?

He was asked to sit in the office with his ‘bomb’. Yes, that’s a wonderful idea. Let’s give the...

Noman Ansari September 18, 2015
When they say they thought 14-year-old MacArthur High School student, Ahmed Mohamed, brought a bomb to school, they are lying. They are lying through their teeth.

Let’s examine the facts. This young student of Sudanese origin, who loves engineering gadgets in his spare time, brought a home-made clock to school to show to his engineering teacher. His teacher after examining the device, recognised it as a clock, but realised it could be misinterpreted as something dangerous, and warned Ahmed not to show it anyone else.

According to Dallas Morning News, Ahmed said,
“He was like, ‘That’s really nice. I would advise you not to show any other teachers’.”

Unfortunately for Ahmed, the clock beeped later in the middle of his English class. His teacher after checking it out claimed,
“It looks like a bomb!”

At this stage, Ahmed could have made a timeless clock joke and replied,
“Well, you look like an alarmist.”

Instead, he told her,
“It doesn’t look like a bomb to me.”

There is a meme going around with a picture of the United Kingdom’s most famous clock, Big Ben, and mocks American paranoia by claiming it is a bomb on a rocket ship.

Well, let’s have a look at Ahmed’s clock next to a suitcase bomb, and an actual clock.

If we are honest with ourselves, Ahmed’s gadget doesn’t look exactly like a clock.

Recently, public figures such as Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Mark Zuckerberg reached out to Ahmed and were wonderfully supportive of him.

Photo: Screenshot

That’s all very nice. But if they didn’t know who Ahmed was, and he went up to them with his suitcase clock, I am sure their security detail would think twice before letting him through.

But I digress.

In the wake of the horrific Boston bombings, it is understandable if American high schools and law enforcement officials wish to practice vigilance. Right-wingers in America, especially those who love Donald Trump, are praising the school’s actions. But is this how you behave if you actually think a student brought a bomb to school?

Here is an excerpt from the Washington Post report:
But the English teacher kept the clock, and during sixth period, Mohamed was pulled out of class by the principal.

“They took me to a room filled with five officers in which they interrogated me and searched through my stuff and took my tablet and my invention,” the teen said. “They were like, ‘So you tried to make a bomb?’ I told them no, I was trying to make a clock.”

But his questioner responded,

“It looks like a movie bomb to me.”

Let’s just pause for a second.

What the heck is a ‘movie bomb’?

Was this 14-year-old boy’s interrogator seriously claiming it was a real bomb because it resembled a fake bomb (I am assuming they don’t use real bombs in movies). Is this how they train the police in the US of A? By asking them to watch reruns of the Lethal Weapon films?

More importantly, did the teachers of this school, the principal, and the five police officers really think it was a bomb?

Think about it. What would you do if you came across a bomb?

Wet your pants?

Run like hell?

Scream for your mother?

I’d probably do all three.

As Facebook user Michael Harriot points out, instead, the school was not evacuated at first chance.

Instead, no one alerted the bomb squad.

Instead, this English teacher, who thought it was a bomb, kept it with her. Why would she keep a device which could kill her at any minute?

Instead, this principal, who thought it was a bomb, let it remain on school property for several hours, where it could kill thousands of school students, staff members, and cute little hamsters in the science lab.

Instead, this student was asked to sit in the office with his ‘bomb’.  Yes, that’s a wonderful idea. Let’s give the ‘terrorist’ his bomb when he realises you are on to him.

Instead, the police carried the ‘bomb’ in their vehicle rather than let a bomb disposal unit handle it. I suggest the police officer watch Katherine Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker instead of Tom and Jerry cartoons.

Also, if it truly was a bomb, did they actually expect the prime suspect to reveal his dastardly master plan like a badly written James Bond villain? Why were they asking Ahmed, instead of asking the only person qualified on school property to answer the question, like his engineering teacher?

Let’s assume it was a bomb. If Ahmed really had invented a bomb to destroy his school, would he have not used it instead of showing it around?

There are some claiming Ahmed’s intention was to manufacture a hoax bomb. If so, why was he at every moment claiming it to be a clock? It isn’t much of a hoax then, is it?

Here is an excerpt from a report by The Verge,
Police spokesperson James McLellan said Ahmed “kept maintaining it was a clock” when he was brought in for interrogation, but that he offered “no broader explanation”.

I don’t know James. Why do you think he offered “no broader explanation” for the inner workings of his clock? Could it be the very reason you wouldn’t explain the theory of gravity to a raccoon?

Just to complete the humiliation, the poor kid was handcuffed and taken to the police station where he was arrested. Yes, arrested. For the rest of his life, his record will be tainted by an arrest because he was smart enough to engineer a clock. With the American school system producing some of the worst performers in the developed world, one would think they would be nurturing their smarter students.

Photo: Twitter Anil Dash (@anildash)

I know that expression. I have a similar one on my face when I read obtuse comments on The Express Tribune Facebook page.

Unfortunately, when they had determined it wasn’t a bomb, the school still inexplicably suspended Ahmed for three days. More outrageously, a letter from the principal to Ahmed’s father was completely devoid of remorse, with no indication of an apology.

I suppose it is not surprising that the principal of this high-school lacks in emotional intelligence as well.

Photo: Screenshot

I don’t know what they are teaching at MacArthur High School in Texas, but they clearly aren’t educating their educators in common sense. While they had a right to be cautious, I believe they knew it wasn’t a bomb. The question is why did they orchestrate a circus with Ahmed as the central attraction?

The internet has let loose countless accusations of racism and religious discrimination against MacArthur High School. Although this is entirely possible, so far there is no evidence of bias. Yes, he happened to be a black Muslim, but mass school shootings taking place in the United States every year have led to ridiculous restrictions on students.

I leave you with the case of a 10-year-old student suspended for ‘making fingers into the shape of a gun’.

No, he wasn’t black. No, his name wasn’t Mohamed.
Noman Ansari The author is the editor-in-chief of IGN Pakistan, and has been reviewing films and writing opinion pieces for The Express Tribune as well as Dawn for five years. He tweets as @Pugnate (twitter.com/Pugnate)
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


WhatWouldYodaDo | 7 years ago | Reply No they didn't think it was an actual bomb! They knew it was a HOAX-bomb. So they weren't scared of it, but they knew that ignoring it was not the appropriate response. This is called a HOAX. The kid gutted a clock and put the parts into a briefcase to make a faux-bomb that he admitted he knew looked just like a bomb. He then shopped it around to 6 teachers until finally one of them reacted as he had hoped (appropriately) and blew a whistle. The school admin wasn't sure how to handle so they called the police. The school probably realized that since this whole situation smells funny that maybe there would be a lawsuit if they mishandled so they shifted responsibility and called the police. The police determined that it wasn't a real bomb, just a faux-bomb and spoke with the kid and let him go all within a matter of hours. The family had plans to make this hoax to go viral to attract the attention of the world and amplify the potential damages. Then they continued on with their plans to move to Qatar within 24 hours of this incident. Neither the naive school nor the police had any intention of punishing the kid, they simply wanted to make sure that there was no threat. Then the family decided to punish the entire school district and milk it for $15M. Hmmmm...... If thats not a hoax I don't know what is. And good luck boarding a plane with that thing in any country.
Saad Durrani | 7 years ago | Reply What did I just read? I mean, what was the point of this?
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