Last week, a high school student named Ahmed Mohammed was briefly arrested for bringing to school what some thought was a bomb. I invited Ahmed to come to the White House because I thought it was an innocent science project, and he was being unfairly targeted because he is Muslim.
Unfortunately, it turns out we at the White House were misled about the facts of this issue. That clock wasn’t a science project. There was no programming involved, no rewiring, Ahmed just took an ordinary consumer clock, gutted it, and put it in a pencil case, something frequently used as a bomb casing. He then took it to school, unsolicited. When confronted about the clock, he gave no information that could de-escalate the situation.
Make no mistake. Creating a device that looks like a bomb, with intention of it looking like a bomb, and bringing it into a school, or any public building or area, is a crime. Even if it isn’t actually a real bomb. In these tense times where terrorists bomb public events and children shoot down their classmates in school, it is all the more important to realize this. Creating a hoax just undermines the policies we have in place to prevent a future terrorist attack. That’s what makes it a crime.
We now have enough evidence to believe Ahmed and his father deliberately staged a hoax, and we will begin working with State and Local authorities to press criminal charges against them. Muslims should not be profiled or assumed to be terrorists, yes. But neither are they above the law. We will hold them fully accountable for their actions.
I deeply apologize to both the teachers and law enforcement in Irving for putting them in the spotlight for just doing their jobs correctly and professionally. In these times when cops and public officials nationwide are coming under increasing scrutiny, it is important to remember the public liability they have. Teachers are responsible for our children’s safety, day in, day out. Cops are responsible for all our safety. If something happens under their watch, we hold them responsible.
It is important that we give them the benefit of the doubt, when events like this arise. And it is important to honor the sacrifices they make, dedicating their lives to the public good. As I’ve said before, it is this kind of service to America that really makes America great.
Thank you and good night,
President Barack Obama