Just before 8 AM on the Monday following the bombs that went off in Manhattan and New Jersey, and several that didn’t go off, phones across NYC and the wider New York metropolitan area erupted in unison, thanks to a massive law enforcement alert announcing Afghan-born U.S. citizen Ahmad Khan Rahamia as a person of interest wanted in connection with the explosion that rocked Manhattan on Saturday night.
Mass Text Warnings Could Increase Islamophobia https://t.co/PFNkGpYQik
— CAIR National (@CAIRNational) October 3, 2016
Fusion Muslim terrorist, Ahmad Khan Rahami, a 28-year-old Muslim U.S. citizen of Afghan descent, was publicly identified as the suspect by the FBI early on Monday morning. Just before 8 AM, smartphones all over the New York metropolitan buzzed with an emergency alert asking people to keep an eye out for him.
Nobody who received the alert had ever seen anything like it.
Never had that before, my phone started buzzing with an emergency alert. NYPD hunt Saturday's bombing suspect pic.twitter.com/6J0185IcZf
— Andrew Connelly (@connellyandrew) September 19, 2016
— FBI Most Wanted (@FBIMostWanted) September 19, 2016
The message was sent through the Wireless Emergency Alerts system, which is normally used to release notices about severe weather and amber alerts. Local governments and federal agencies can use the system for any “alerts involving imminent threats to safety or life,” according to the Federal Communications Commission. Messages are sent to any phone connected to a specific cell tower.
But the alerts are limited to just 90 characters, and messages are text-only. Agencies sending them can’t even include a web link for people to click and learn more information, which leads to awkward phrases like “see media for pic.” The FCC wants to make longer alerts possible, but phone companies have resisted that change.
While the intent of this alert may have been to mobilize the public for what was shaping up to be a massive manhunt, the effect of everyone’s smartphones suddenly beeping and vibrating out en masse was decidedly less organized—particularly for a city already.
The emergency alert on my phone woke me before my alarm, and actually scared the hell out of me.
— Bianca Clendenin (@bdclendenin) September 19, 2016
Great way to terrorize a bus full of schoolkids is having all their parents' phones blare a scary alarm they can't do anything about.
— Anil Dash (@anildash) September 19, 2016
Chilling moment in packed subway car when everyone's phone buzzed w alert about bombing suspect at the same second.
— James Bennet (@JBennet) September 19, 2016
Erie feeling when your in a crowded subway station and the mobile alert on everyone's phone simultaneously goes off
— Andrew McMahan (@AndrewMcMahan) September 19, 2016
Friends tell me entire cars of trains and street corners and the like erupted in alerts, scaring the shit out of everyone
— Tony Romm (@TonyRomm) September 19, 2016
Even international figures in town for the United Nations’ General Assembly were alerted.
— Jon Williams (@WilliamsJon) September 19, 2016
The only thing leftists and Muslims were concerned about was the potential for ‘racist’ (What ‘race’ is Islam?) and ‘Islamophobic’ backlash. (Well, duh! The bomber WAS a Muslim, as usual…so there’s nothing irrational about people being afraid of Muslims)
Everyone in NY area receives alert on cell phone to look for Chelsea bombing suspect. Concerned about the unintended consequences.
— Mitch Gross (@Mitch_Gross) September 19, 2016
Shoutout to my fellow brown persons who originally planned on taking the subway to the airport today with luggage pic.twitter.com/Lz0tiiD7uv
— kenyatta cheese (@kenyatta) September 19, 2016
Sorry, cupcake, it’s got nothing to do with “brown” persons, just Muslim persons. And this isn’t the first time the alert system was used following a suspected Muslim terrorist attack. During the manhunt for the Muslim Boston Marathon bombers in 2013, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency sent an alert to Bostonites telling them to shelter in place.
In typical New York fashion, many were simply annoyed by the whole thing.
Everyone in my subway car bitching about having been scared shitless by their phone's emergency alert this morning. So the city is unified.
— Frank Koughan (@Koughan) September 19, 2016
Or used it as an excuse to play out personal spy fantasies.
"Can't come in boss."
"Phone alert. The terrorist. I got the dossier."
"Oh we all got–"
"Im an asset like in those bourne movies bye"
— Bob Powers (@bobpowers1) September 19, 2016
Police captured the Muslim terrorist in New Jersey pretty quickly. Nothing to see here. Move along…until the next Muslim terrorist attack.