September 20, 2015

The Age of “See Something, Say Something” is Over

While I feel a tad uncomfortable addressing a situation involving a fourteen-year-old student, Ahmed Mohamed apparently has no problem with publicity, a trip to meet the president included, so, I’ll wade in. At any rate, it’s more about the situation than the individual involved, regardless of age.

I investigated suspicious people, places, and things for over two decades. Without hesitation, I can tell you that had I been called to a school and observed the “clock” Ahmed had carried with him to school in a small suitcase, I would have been derelict in my duty if I didn’t treat it like a possible bomb.

News reports indicate he showed the self-initiated, science project to his engineering teacher who advised him not to show anyone (the science teacher obviously thought it looked like a bomb) the “clock.” Ahmed ignored the warning and showed it to his English teacher. Not a science teacher or engineer, we know from the aftermath that this English teacher definitely thought the device looked like a possible bomb.

So, so far we have a science/engineering teacher and an English teacher who thought the device looked like a bomb. The police responded and obviously they also thought it looked enough like a bomb to take the actions they did.

Now, consider the following as reported in the media:

Ahmed refused to cooperate with the police and provide details, so police have to assume the worst. I can tell you that I’ve called the bomb squad for less suspicious-looking devices during my career.

One thing everyone seems to agree on is that Ahmed Mohamed is a bright student with a scientific mind. In other words: He’s very smart—perhaps, even brilliant. One might wonder, though, just how smart is Ahmed? Smart enough to know what at least two teachers and the police officers (not to mention every other objective person looking at the device) knew? That the device looked like a homemade bomb. Maybe? Probably?

Consider these comments Ahmed made as reported by CNN, “‘I felt like I was a criminal,’ the teenager said. ‘I felt like I was a terrorist. I felt like all the names I was called.

‘In middle school,’ Ahmed said, ‘he had been called ‘bombmaker’ and a ‘terrorist.

‘Just because of my race and my religion,’ he said, adding that when he walked into the room where he was questioned, an officer reclined in a chair and remarked, ‘That’s who I thought it was (Really?).

‘I took it to mean he was pointing at me for what I am, my race,’ the freshman explained.’”

Think about it: If bright, inquisitive science student Ahmed, who claims he’d been harassed by classmates specifically as a “bombmaker” and a “terrorist,” and then stereotyped by a cop, didn’t know that a suitcase containing a device with wires protruding from it and fitted with a timer could be mistaken for a bomb, maybe he ain’t all that smart after all. But, I doubt it.

Seems all to convenient; or is it just me?

Could it simply have been a matter of adolescent retribution?

And, is this worthy of an knee-jerk invitation to the White House?



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