Dutch teen arrested after ‘joke’ terror tweet to American Airlines backfires
A 14-year-old Dutch schoolgirl who sent a terror threat to American Airlines as a Twitter “joke” has been arrested by police in Holland.
The girl, identified only as Sarah, received a torrent of abusive messages on Twitter after her exchange with the airline, in which she pretended to be an al-Qaeda member from Afghanistan, was shared thousands of times.
On Tuesday, media in Rotterdam were reporting the girl had been arrested by local police.
Dutch police spokesperson Wessel Stole said: “We’re not in a state that we can communicate any state of charges at this point. We just thought it was necessary to bring this out mostly because of the fact that it caused a great deal of interest on the Internet.”
American Airlines responded to the Dutch teenager’s vow on Twitter to “do something really big” by saying it “takes these threats very seriously” and passing her details on to the FBI.
The girl protested that she was just “joking” and that she was from the Netherlands, not Afghanistan. She later deleted her account.
The Netherlands-based news service BNO News reported that the 14-year-old was detained “after Rotterdam police’s own investigation,” not at the request of American Airlines or the FBI.
Just six minutes after Sarah sent her now infamous tweet, American Airlines replied to say her “IP address and details” had been logged.
The exchange was then picked up on by the wider public – @AmericanAir has more than 800,000 followers – and was followed by a flurry of messages from Sarah herself expressing her regret.
Among them, she wrote: “omfg I was kidding”; “I’m so sorry I’m scared now”; “I was joking and it was my friend not me, take her IP address not mine”; “and I’m not from Afghanistan.”
A spokesman for American Airlines said: “We took it down basically because it generated a lot of traffic. We took it down so we could better focus on our customers.”
Despite the arrest and the international condemnation, many more similar tweets have been appearing, according to media reports.