Dutch police arrested a 14-year-old girl Monday after she posted a threatening message Saturday to American Airlines. The young girl, only identified as “Sarah” and her twitter name @QueenDemetriax_, tweeted to the airline, “hello my name [is] Ibrahim….I’m part of Al Qaida and…June 1st I’m gonna do something…big.”
American Airlines responded to the girl’s threatening message and tweeted back saying, “…we take these threats very seriously. Your IP address…will be forwarded to security and the FBI.” The girl immediately responded with apologies and explanations. At one point shortly after the airline’s response she said, “I was kidding,” adding, “[Please] I’m just a fangirl…I don’t have evil thoughts…plus I’m…white.”
Pressured by the search for her location and the airline’s sentiments the young girl turned herself in at a Rotterdam police station Monday afternoon. Rotterdam officer Wessel Stolle told the media the girl was accompanied to the station by a parent.
The teen Twitter user was then arrested for what the Dutch government calls “posting a false or alarming [statement].” The ramifications for this charge have not yet been determined. “She will be questioned for [a] couple of hours,” said Stolle. “After that, she might be sent home.”
Though non-specific about punishment Stolle did reinforce the seriousness of what the girl called a “joke” saying, “…her tweets [were] taken seriously and…it is a rather alarming threat.”
The Twitter account @QueenDemetriax_ has been suspended as the company does not allow “direct…threats of violence against others” per their user guidelines. Many thought they had seen the last of the social media prank, but days later the situation escalated.
A number of Twitter users picked up on what American Airlines hopes is not a growing trend. At least three direct threats were sent to American Airlines yesterday, including a message from @ComedyBatman saying, “@AmericanAir You really seem to not care that I’m about to bomb your plane…headed to Paris. [By the way] my name is Ahmed.” User @eduardo37276391 said, “… I’m eduardo. ago a couple of weeks [you] were warned, [I’m] ignored. you will pay the consequences. Bomb!”
Other Twitter users jumped on the “joke” bandwagon, supporting the Dutch girl who was arrested. User @versaceftziam said, “@AmericanAir [I’m] Ibrahim I think you guys are the BOMB!” A more personal message from user @nonfreak was sent to the Rotterdam police saying, “@Politie_Rdam @YourAnonCentral @AmericanAir release her or I’ll bomb your [office]. you gonna arrest me now?”
For the safety of their passengers, American Airlines as well as Southwest Airlines (who was also threatened) must evaluate any threat, no matter how unfounded they may seem. American Airlines Spokesman Matt Miller said, “…the safety of our passengers and crew is our top priority [and] we take security matters very seriously.” Miller added that the airline’s statements were taken down from per their company’s guidelines. “In [these situations], we flag the [messages] with the proper authorities and then take down [ours].” After the Twitter post of the Dutch girl, “Sarah” caused her arrest, American Airlines vows to consider every threat with the same level of caution and sees little alternative to waiting out social media’s latest headache.
By Erin P. Friar