The 14-year-old Irving boy who was thrust into the national spotlight last year after he was suspended for bringing a homemade digital clock to school has returned “home,” even if just for the summer.
“I’m very happy to be here,” Ahmed Mohamed said as he arrived at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport Monday afternoon.
“I was homesick. It was a whirlwind to get moved … from the family that lives here in Texas and go to a completely new country for me.”
Ahmed and his family have been living in Qatar since a small weekend project changed his life. After briefly greeting loved ones Monday, he was quickly swarmed by cameras and microphones, and he was bombarded with questions as he stopped for a few minutes in the middle of the busy terminal.
He’s a local celebrity because one day he left school in handcuffs after his clock was deemed “suspicious.”
Ahmed was a freshman at Irving MacArthur High School when he took a disassembled and rebuilt digital clock to class on Sept. 14, 2015. Because the clock was “suspicious in nature” and Ahmed “was not forthcoming with any other details about it,” said Irving Police Chief Larry Boyd, he was briefly taken into custody. But he was soon released when officials determined the clock was not a bomb or even a hoax bomb.
But Ahmed was suspended from school for three days and later withdrew from the school, and he and his immediate family moved to Qatar.
Monday, he returned to Texas all smiles, saying he wanted to spend time with friends and family. He said he has several visits on his summer calendar, including MIT, NASA and with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.
“It feels good to be back!” he posted to his Twitter account late Monday.
Ahmed’s father, Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, a Sudanese immigrant, said Monday that his family loves it here.
“It’s the land of opportunity, the land of justice and of free speech,” Mohamed said. “It is beautiful to be in the U.S.A. It is our home.”
At the airport, Ahmed said he will have to go back to school in Qatar but expressed a desire to eventually move back to the U.S. permanently, saying there’s a 50-50 chance he’ll finish high school here.
The Mohamed family is seeking $15 million in damages — $10 million from the city and $5 million from the school district — in a lawsuit that claims Ahmed’s “global reputation” and his views of law enforcement and schools have been scarred. Ahmed and his family, who are Muslim, also believe Ahmed was the victim of discrimination.
The incident sparked instant reaction from thousands of social media users, and he quickly created a Twitter account, @IStandwithAhmed, that has almost 100,000 followers. He’s met President Barack Obama, been interviewed on national TV shows, and his father said he’s beginning an internship with Twitter.
Ahmed said he has chosen a tentative career path. He’s interested in computer coding and engineering.
This story includes information from Star-Telegram archives.