Dutch girl arrested after posting terrorist threat on Twitter as a joke

Posting threats on Twitter, even as a joke, can have some very serious consequences. That's the lesson that a 14-year old Dutch girl from the Netherlands is learning today after she was arrested and charged with making a threat against American Airlines.

The girl, who used the name "Sarah" on her Twitter account, posted up the following message over the weekend to the official American Airlines feed, according to Business Insider:

Needless to say, American Airlines took "Sarah's" note seriously, even after she quickly posted follow up messages that her first tweet was a joke that was made by a friend of hers.

Today, the Rotterdam Police announced on their own Twitter feed that the 14-year old had been arrested in connection with the American Airlines threat. A spokesperson for the department told Business Insider, "We're not in a state that we can communicate any state of charges at this point. We just thought it was necessary to bring this out mostly because of the fact that it caused a great deal of interest on the Internet."

Source: Business Insider | Image via Twitter

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Read this comment on another blog:
If a 14-year old girl gets arrested over a "joke" tweet then terrorists have won already.

Something to think about... ironic considering the so-called security that was put in place to protect freedom ends up limiting freedom, probably to a greater extent still. Agreed this was a very bad joke, but personally I would not have arrested a kid over this. Maybe a good long talk with her and her parents but that's it.

Yeah, sorry, but this doesn't even come close to classifying as a joke.

If someone walked up to you and said "I'm going to kill you and burn your family" would you (or anyone that isn't a psychopath) think that is funny? No...

If you want to take the day off work and call your office and tell them there is a bomb planted at your desk, would the fire department think that is funny? No...

Bottom line - kid is messed up and needs to be set straight. Getting arrested is a great way to do that. And I hope that the parents see that, and maybe try doing some parenting....

Saying "I'm going to do something big" is entirely different to walking up to someone and threatening to kill them and their family. There was no specific threat here. A threat is defined as "[something] likely to cause damage or danger" - a fourteen year old girl making a vague statement does not meet that threshold.

Certainly such claims need to be investigated and it is reasonable for her to be warned of her actions but arresting her is taking things too far.

*sigh* yes, no joking allowed these days on some topics... sad realities of today's world. I can sure understand it, but somehow I kinda feel we lost something.

Breach said,
I kinda feel we lost something.
I don't recall a time when it was ever ok to suggest you were a member of the world's most hated terrorist organization, and that you were going to do something "big" on a given date. And if at all it was ever fine to do this I for one am glad it no longer is, and that these sorts of "jokes" are frowned upon as they should be.

And um, American Airlines.. Um are you stupid, really?

What terrorist would threaten you in English and without even mentioning Jihad, the Qur'an, and Allāh.

You knew it was BS from the moment you firsts saw it.. But ok.. Let's make a big deal of it and ruin a kid's life. Good job!!

Semi-related info:

In a lot of EU countries small groups of muslim kids are becoming actively involved in the war in Syria. They leave their homes, often at young ages of 17, to travel to Syria and help out their 'muslim brothers' and fight with them.
Leaving their families behind in horror about their fate. Or they come back in the end, traumatized by the experience.

This is also a reason why there's such a strong reaction to things like these nowadays, as the intelligence services fear they might also received training for terrorist attacks. It's something that's not often reported on the Syrian War outside the EU.

Also due to this, threats of any kind are taken very seriously these days in Holland. A while ago there were a couple of girls that placed a bom threat on their school, and they were also quickly apprehended - despite having placed their call from a phone booth in another city.

In these days, 'jokes' likes these are not the smartest thing to do.......

Thousands of Brits (including George Orwell) travelled to Spain to fight in the Spanish Civil War (1939-1939) too, it didn't mean that were automatically considered terrorists. There was no need to arrest the girl in this instance - a simple visit to her house and a warning not to do it again would have been more than sufficient. By making this so high profile it just encourages copycats, something we've already seen, and makes it more difficult for intelligence services to distinguish the legitimate threats from the childish pranks.

What she did was immature and reckless but this was not a sensible reaction.

Not saying the response was a sensible one. I agree the tweet was a immature one.
But all threats are taken very seriously these days.

And unfortunately the war in Syria has a religious basis, so anyone traveling there to assist in the fighting will be a subject of surveillance once they come back.
That's the world we live in today :-\

An arrest is nice though, but let her go the day after and not make such a global fuss about it might help.

Now they're only giving people that love attention a new platform to get their 15 minutes of fame.

i think this is happening, because nowadays kids have everything - smartphones, personal computers, laptops, instruments, everything that they can think of, and still they get bored with it really fast

so they start doing really stupid things


when i was 14 i still didnt have my own PC and i would go to internet cafes to play games, where every secound counted, now i get so bored with games, i have to push myself to launch them

and even further back, we were all playing outside, playing football (the one that you actually use your feet to kick the ball, not that one where you smash into each other like animals), we would play trading card games and think of our own games, every day was like a blessing from the gods and no one was ever bored or left out


now 2 year olds' first toy is a tablet

its so sad i dont even know how to describe it, by and large thats why i think this girl turned stupid, just like the rest eventually do

Ok she made the joke and she was arrested, ok that is understandable but now what "investigations" they are doing? Just leave her, the police system is so weak that they are so afraid that they arrest a 14 year old girl and take his words as a threat? Are they that much vulnerable?

I don't see how this is so hard to understand. They have to take all threats seriously and carry out a thorough investigation, or if something happens for real who do you think will get blamed and whose heads will roll?

Yeah! The Netherlands is a terrorist country. We've been training them and have an army of dangerous terrorists!!!!

Every 14 year old making a stupid threat should be taken very serious!

Shadowzz said,
Every 14 year old making a stupid threat should be taken very serious!
Yes it should. I hope you were simply joking, because if you think 14-year olds can't carry out threats you're living in a fantasy world. If you think 14-year olds can't be used by adults to get detestable things done you're unfortunately quite mistaken. Also the tweet was claimed to be posted by one "Ibrahim", and the authorities can't automatically assume it was a 14-year old who wrote it even if it was her account. All threats absolutely have to be taken very seriously indeed. Of course, in this case after it's proved that it was just one stupid girl's silly antics she should be released with appropriate consequences (can even be just a stern warning) so she hopefully never does anything like this ever again.

Edited by Romero, Apr 17 2014, 5:43pm :

Not saying it shouldn't be looked into, but in this case they would quickly find out she is anything but a serious terrorist.

No point in wasting my countries resources so much on these things.
Pick her up for questioning, keeping her locked for a day or so and send her home.

Can understand if this would be taken serious if there would be real threats like this coming from here. But they aren't. There's numerous of 'threats' like this.

Shadowzz said,
Pick her up for questioning, keeping her locked for a day or so and send her home.
I agree with this. About how much in terms of resources was "wasted" in this instance I can't say, but one might easily argue "better to be safe than sorry".

Shadowzz said,
Can understand if this would be taken serious if there would be real threats like this coming from here. But they aren't.
You know, I'm glad there aren't, so far. The problem with the twisted ideology and hatred these groups spread is that they can infect anyone anywhere, especially people on the margins of society (or those who just feel marginalized in their mind). These are realities we all need to deal with in this world of ours and being naive and believing implicitly in the goodness of all men unfortunately just doesn't work any more. Yes, an over the top response would be ridiculous when it's been conclusively proved that there's no real threat, but till that time they have to take all such things seriously. It's just how it is, sad but true.

Sad deductions! So what they* are watching!? One doesn't need to bother about this crap until you have any such destructive/antisocial things up your mind. : \

ShAsadAhmad said,
Sad deductions! So what they* are watching!? One doesn't need to bother about this crap until you have any such destructive/antisocial things up your mind. : \

That was the whole point. The deduction is still correct that online is not as anonymous as people wants to believe.

Auditor said,
The deduction is still correct that online is not as anonymous as people wants to believe.
While I agree with your deduction for other reasons, are you suggesting that her actions would have been ok if she'd found a more anonymous way of carrying them out?

Dot Matrix said,
Apparently, this is a thing now. She's spawned copy cats all over Twitter. Are kids really this bored nowadays?

Wait till 1000s of people start to do this same thing.

I would love to see as many people on twitter do it, and see what AA would do about it.

I think its just a kid doing what a kid does. Nothing bad. I think people take life way to seriously.

Tonicgoofy said,
I think people take life way to seriously.
Except if this became a regular occurrence and they started ignoring it and then something really happened, say to a flight with someone you cared about, you'd most likely be the first one in the queue shouting about how they don't take people's lives and safety seriously.

There definitely should be consequences for such actions, although of course nothing that would ruin her life forever. Just enough to put the fear of God into her and teach her never to attempt a stunt like this again, and to talk her friends out of it if she knows they're up to something similar.

Boy, the things we use to say to one another back in the days would get us the death penalty. However, in this day and age we all should remember to teach our kids the proper etiquette when posting on the Internet and when speaking out loud in public. I'm sure she meant no harm, but a comment like this should always be taken seriously.

News sites reports that today over 12 other kids have now sent american airlines some bombs treats after they learn she did this. Looks likes the authorities could makes this case a example out of it to teach others about this kind of behavior, because of them, rofl.. Kids these day's!!!

I do hope she gets only a slap on the hand or some community work to do but nothing major, but with the recent development i think she is in for a bit more.

hagjohn said,
Stupid thing to do but how did American Airlines get her IP address from a tweet?

They don't. Some idiot replied using that twitter account who has no idea what IP address is.

As usual the story is a bit more complex! Of course, not a smart move from that Girl! However, she did go to the police herself with an adult explaining she made a terrible mistake. Nevertheless, Pandora is out of the box. Stupid perhaps, intended no. Another 14 year old teenager 'slips' in this digital era? For a teenager Internet is perhaps as a huge, huge candy box. And for some reason beyond here comprehension, she may not tough the candy? How would you have reacted when you were 14?

Wouldn't have done it in the first place (and didn't). 14 is plenty old enough to know something like this is monumentally stupid.

There comes a time when funny, and moronic get their lines drawn. For something that is a 'touchy' subject on a global scale, this is nothing short of expected. The American Government plays such a major role on today's economic and enforcement standing; they won't just sit back and allow random threats (however invalid they may be) get posted without investigating. I'm rather shocked she didn't remove it rather than create posts advising it was a joke.

If this girl was arrested in Turkey then some ######## will burn the city and yell It's a freedom of speech!!

Oguz said,
If this girl was arrested in Turkey then some ######## will burn the city and yell It's a freedom of speech!!

Oh come one Erdogan, youre so easily exposed, even in the anonymity of the Internet.

The Teej said,
That's just plane stupid on her part!
I see what you did there ;)

Seriously though, that was a stupid thing to post. Kids these days...

tsupersonic said,
I see what you did there ;)

Seriously though, that was a stupid thing to post. Kids these days...

Did you read the article? It certainly would have been stupid if she posted it herself. Instead her 'friend' posted it just to mess with her. Kids have Always done this sort of stuff to each other. I understand AAirlands needs to respond to this sort of thing. But if she immediatly sends out another message saying it wa a joke made by a friend. Then I think AA is going to far. If hackers become aware of this then we'll see a lot more of these 'jokes' followed by arrests.

Ronnet said,

Did you read the article? It certainly would have been stupid if she posted it herself. Instead her 'friend' posted it just to mess with her. Kids have Always done this sort of stuff to each other. I understand AAirlands needs to respond to this sort of thing. But if she immediatly sends out another message saying it wa a joke made by a friend. Then I think AA is going to far. If hackers become aware of this then we'll see a lot more of these 'jokes' followed by arrests.

Read the article? I read the tweets yesterday. She also claimed her account was hacked...So yeah, about that "friend"

Ronnet said,

Did you read the article? It certainly would have been stupid if she posted it herself. Instead her 'friend' posted it just to mess with her. Kids have Always done this sort of stuff to each other. I understand AAirlands needs to respond to this sort of thing. But if she immediatly sends out another message saying it wa a joke made by a friend. Then I think AA is going to far. If hackers become aware of this then we'll see a lot more of these 'jokes' followed by arrests.

Agreed, she shouldn't be held accountable for something she didn't do. It was totally my "friend" typing all those embarrassing messages to my crushes back in MSN days, not me at all.

benthebear said,
Yeah...it's always the "friend" that does the stupid stuff one your computer...
I agree. Typical excuse. Sure she is full of crap.. And just lied to cover her own ass.

benthebear said,
Yeah...it's always the "friend" that does the stupid stuff one your computer...

In my experience it usually is. You're not going to make yourself look like a fool. But friends liketo make each other look like a fool. So yes it often is a friend when it comes to posting on Facebook and Twitter. Unless you enjoy making yourself look like a fool. Which is ok if you're into that sort of thing!

Investigage all issues like this but hope they are smart to realize it was just a dumb stupid kid mistake. Punish the kid but dont screw the rest of her life over. Community service, fine...whatever. Was she dumb? Yes, kids do dumb things. But again, dont screw over the rest of her life because of it.

techbeck said,
Investigage all issues like this but hope they are smart to realize it was just a dumb stupid kid mistake. Punish the kid but dont screw the rest of her life over. Community service, fine...whatever. Was she dumb? Yes, kids do dumb things. But again, dont screw over the rest of her life because of it.

They should just mark her as a "person who requires additional screening" whenever she travels to the US.

Does it ruin her life? Nope. Does it make her airport travel a little more of a hassle? Sure does.

-Razorfold said,

They should just mark her as a "person who requires additional screening" whenever she travels to the US.

Does it ruin her life? Nope. Does it make her airport travel a little more of a hassle? Sure does.

I agree. Keep an eye on her for a little while at least. I just dont think and hope she doesnt get the rest of her life taken away from her. Just not worth it.

She should write on a chalk board 1,000 times:

@AmericanAir I will not post terrorist threats against you on Twitter again #punishment

Screwing someone for the rest of his/her life is unfortunately an American value, not Dutch. And in the Netherlands people cannot be judged as adults unless they are really adults. Long story short, this act will be deleted from her records in the future because of her young age. It will be like it never happened.

techbeck said,
Investigage all issues like this but hope they are smart to realize it was just a dumb stupid kid mistake. Punish the kid but dont screw the rest of her life over. Community service, fine...whatever. Was she dumb? Yes, kids do dumb things. But again, dont screw over the rest of her life because of it.

Fully agreed. I think this was incredibly stupid on their part (their = this girl and her allegedly dumb friend who did this as a prank), but they shouldn't be crucified for eternity or have too much resources dumped onto their punishment.

AtriusNY said,
Long story short, this act will be deleted from her records in the future because of her young age. It will be like it never happened.

Not quite. The repercussions will be limited for the individual in question, because of her age, but this will remain an act on her police record for the rest of her life, even in the Netherlands. Whenever an employer does a background check, this WILL come up.

warwagon said,
She's a waste of oxygen.

We all do dumb things. Growing up, it was kids calling in bomb threats or pulling fire alarms. Now, kids have way to many ways to do stupid stuff and to much freedom to do so.

techbeck said,

We all do dumb things. Growing up, it was kids calling in bomb threats or pulling fire alarms. Now, kids have way to many ways to do stupid stuff and to much freedom to do so.

NEVER did/or have the urge to do anY such destructive & anti social acts!! Even acts like ringing bells and running away was distasteful to me as a kid!

This kid got what she deserved and needs conditioning by proper authorities to subdue any such future incident in life, making the world a better place for ppl around her.

Let her go and you would have a million replicating similar things and then one would not be able to filter the real threat from the noise*

ShAsadAhmad said,

NEVER did/or have the urge to do anY such destructive & anti social acts!! Even acts like ringing bells and running away was distasteful to me as a kid!

This kid got what she deserved and needs conditioning by proper authorities to subdue any such future incident in life, making the world a better place for ppl around her.

Let her go and you would have a million replicating similar things and then one would not be able to filter the real threat from the noise*

Yeah, youre the ultimate human being, so awesome and good and never did a mistake. We should all follow your example.
Thanks for exposing your totalitarian character. You should be the one getting investigated.