Teenager’s homemade clock mistaken for bomb



Irving MacArthur High School student Ahmed Mohamed, 14, poses for a photo at his home in Irving, Texas, on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015. Mohamed was arrested and interrogated by Irving Police officers on Monday after bringing a homemade clock to school. (Vernon Bryant/Dallas Morning News/TNS)

Anna Scheuring, Reporter

Ninth grader Ahmed Mohamed’s day took an unexpected turn on September 21 due to a creation of his that he brought to his Irving, Texas high school.

The teen had a background in robotics, and had won many awards in his middle school robotics club. Mohamed had utilized his talents to build a homemade alarm clock, which he proudly brought it to MacArthur High School, excited to show his engineering teacher.

“It was an alarm clock that he made. He wakes up with it most mornings,” the boy’s father, Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, said. According to reports, Ahmed showed his engineering teacher the alarm clock. She then told him to put it back in his backpack. During another class, the alarm clock beeped. Ahmed showed the teacher the clock, and she had a suspicion that it was a hoax bomb.  The teacher reported Ahmed and he was arrested for stipulation of creating a hoax bomb offense, which in definition is when an individual “knowingly manufactures, sells, purchases, transports, or possesses a hoax bomb with intent to use”.

Ahmed was then handcuffed and escorted to the police station for questioning. According to CNN, the police knew after investigation that the clock was not a bomb, but he was arrested nonetheless for the reasoning of creating something that caused other people to fear.  Ahmed was kept in police custody for a couple hours while he was questioned. Reports say that Ahmed responded to the police’s questions by restating that his invention “was just a clock”. Ahmed’s father, Mohamed Elhassan, came to the police station after receiving a phone call that his son was in custody for creating a hoax bomb.

“I asked if I could talk to or speak to my son and they told me, ‘No, not right now’ because they were taking his fingerprints and asking him questions,” Mohammed said about when he arrived at the station. “I asked if I could see the thing they were calling a bomb. The police never let me even see it, but I knew what my son brought to school”.

Ahmed was released from the police station after investigation proved the teen was innocent. He was then expelled from his school for three days.

The situation brings rise for the country to inevitably to ask if the incident was racially motivated. Ahmed Mohamed’s parents are immigrants from Sudan, and the family practices the Islamic religion.

“My son’s name is Mohamed — people just think Muslims are terrorists but we are peaceful, we are not that way,” the teen’s father said.

After the news broke about how Ahmed was treated, his high school and the police station received many hateful messages from people who believed the situation was handled incorrectly. The police and teacher denied that the situation had any ties to race, and they said that the exact means of procedure would be taken for any student in the same scenario.

“We always ask our students and staff to immediately report if they observe any suspicious items and/or suspicious behavior,” a statement from MacArthur reads. “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.”

Since the incident, Ahmed has received support from all over the country, with many leaders and celebrities posting their support for the teen. The hashtag #IStandWithAhmed originated quickly after the incident, and thousands of people used it in support of Ahmed. Ahmed was invited via Twitter to visit the headquarters, and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg also sent support by inviting the teenager to visit the Facebook main center. Ahmed was even invited by President Obama to pay a visit to the White House.

“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,” President Obama tweeted.

Ahmed and his family have not decided what further action to take with the school.

Ahmed was invited back to MacArthur High School, but the teen will not be returning to that school. He hopes to use his skills to become an engineer and inventor one day.