A 14-year-old Dutch girl, whose Twitter message to American Airlines was interpreted as a terrorist threat, has been freed after a brief arrest and confronted with a worldwide barrage of tweets debating whether she was a victim of security excess or an “idiot” for performing the stunt.
The girl, identified only as Sarah, was briefly taken into custody Monday, a day after she sent a tweet to @AmericanAir with the message: “hello my name is Ibrahim and I’m from Afghanistan. I’m part of Al Qaida and on June 1st I’m gonna do something really big bye.”
The airline responded swiftly: “Sarah, we take these threats very seriously. Your IP address and details will be forwarded to security and the FBI.”
Sarah tweeted apologies for what she said was intended as a joke, but Rotterdam police responding to the incident took her into custody. She was released Tuesday after an initial court hearing, Rotterdam police confirmed in a tweet.
The girl’s Twitter account, @QueenDemetriax, swelled to 30,000 followers before it was taken down after the incident.
“I always wanted to be famous. But ... not Osama bin laden famous,” the girl tweeted before her account was blocked, Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper reported.
The girl’s attempt at a joke drew hundreds of Twitter users to post messages both sympathetic and critical.
“Her account is now suspended. Lesson learnt: Jokes on terrorism ain’t funny. Be stupid but not idiot!” read one message from a Twitter user in India, @Irfanomania.
Another user with the handle @tyrochtaylor tweeted: “when I was 14 I used to make paper aeroplanes; not threaten to blow real ones up.”
But some Twitter users apparently felt the girl had been harshly treated.
“Let her go or I will blow up your headquarters. Will you arrest me now?” wrote a tweeter using the handle @nonfreak.
Some tweeters aimed their scorn at other airlines, like @KalenRiley10, who wrote to Southwest Airlines with the message: “I bake really good pies and my friends call me “the bomb” am I still allowed to fly?”
It was not clear what charges or consequences the girl may face. Threats to aviation can be prosecuted as a felony in the United States and European countries.