Anti-Muslim Activists Still Think Ahmed Mohamed May Have Built ‘Half A Bomb’

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Anti-Muslim activists last week seized on the viral rise of 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed, who was arrested for bringing a homemade digital clock to class at a Texas high school, to signal-boost their own message.

Frank Gaffney, a former Reagan administration official and founder of the anti-Muslim think tank Center For Security Policy, tried to get a meme going when he tweeted out an image of what he claimed to Mohamed’s clock alongside a bomb triggering device. After a Twitter user called him out for using the wrong image, Gaffney switched out the misleading photo for what appeared to be a zoomed-in photo from the Irving, Texas Police Department of one component of Mohamed’s clock:

Gaffney also tried to gain traction with the hashtag #IStandWithBeth, a play on the #IStandWithAhmed hashtag that the student’s supporters used to express their solidarity. Beth Van Duyne, the mayor of Irving and a critic of what she thinks is creeping Sharia law, has spoken numerous times this year at the Center for Security Policy’s events and on its internet radio show. Van Duyne commended police in a Facebook post for the way they handled Mohamed’s arrest.

The Center for Security Policy’s vice president, Jim Hanson, insisted Thursday on the organization’s radio show that what Mohamed brought to school on Sept. 14 was “half a bomb.”

“What the kid brought was not a bomb. But it was half a bomb,” Hanson said. “It was the half that triggers…this kid may have had no idea what it looks like but anyone who was aware of what a bomb trigger would look like would recognize it. Apparently two of his teachers did.”

Anti-Muslim activist Pam Geller, who was lionized in conservative media earlier this year after two gunmen opened fire outside the venue hosting a Muhammad cartoon-drawing contest she organized in Garland, Texas, similarly refused to refer to Mohamed’s invention as just a clock.

“Police officers said the electronic components and wires inside his Vaultz pencil case (which is the size of a briefcase) looked like a ‘hoax bomb,'” Geller wrote at Breitbart, greatly exaggerating the size of Mohamed’s clock.

Geller further seized on the background of the teenager’s father, Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, to argue that the teenager’s arrest was a set-up in itself.

“In what has become one of the most egregious of the faked hate narratives, the bomb hoax clockster turns out to come from a family that has a history of supremacist stunts,” Geller wrote. Her evidence: the elder Mohamed debated the Quran with Rev. Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who infamously went on to burn the holy book, and ran for president in his native Sudan.

“He finally has the cause he has been seeking for so long,” she wrote.

Police ultimately brought no charges against Mohamed, although he remained suspended from school. The teenager also fielded invitations from top-tier colleges, tech companies and even President Barack Obama while Gaffney and Geller were busy attempting to expose his clock as something more nefarious.

But to those anti-Muslim activists, the invitations were just further proof that Mohamed’s arrest was a stunt.

“The purported injustice of this story has made Ahmed an instant celebrity, winning fawning treatment from MIT to Stephen Colbert to the White House,” Gaffney wrote on the Center for Security Policy’s blog. “The facts, however, suggest this may have been a provocation. Building and bringing to school what sure looked like a trigger for an improvised briefcase bomb would predictably raise an alarm.”

Geller predicted more dire consequences of Mohamed’s newfound fame.

“If you ever see a Muslim with a suspicious object, remember the lesson of Ahmed Mohamed: to say something would be ‘racism,'” she wrote. “That could end up being the epitaph of America and the free world.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at catherine@talkingpointsmemo.com.

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