F-18 Fighter Jets Flank A Passenger Plane After A Teen Makes A Bad Joke On Snapchat

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An 18-year old British university student got himself in hot water over a bomb joke at a London airport and is now possibly facing expensive fines in Spanish court for the unnecessary hoax. 

In July 2022, Aditya Verma with some friends were boarding a plane from Gatwick Airport to the island of Menorca in Spain. While connected to the airport's public Wi-Fi network, Verma sent a Snapchat message that read ""On my way to blow up the plane (I'm a member of the Taliban)." He meant it as a joke, but certain (obvious) keywords in his message triggered red flags by the authorities. While the plane was en route, UK cyber-security services forwarded the concern over to its Spanish counterpart. 

Before they knew it, passengers on the plane, including Verma, noticed that their easyJet flight was being flanked by two F-18 fighter jets. Verma explained in his court hearing that the easyJet pilot made an announcement and told passengers that the jets had been scrambled due to a distress signal that had been sent in error. In actuality, the Spanish authorities had scrambled the fighters to escort the flight to its destination, where once on the ground, Verma was arrested.

During his arrest, Verma was questioned by police and had his phone combed through. They found that he had previously searched up on the Pakistani and Indian conflicts and the possibilities of an Islamic State attack in the area. Ultimately they found nothing of interest linking the teen to any terrorist radicalism. Back on home soil, Verma was further questioned by MI5 and MI6 British intelligence.

Ultimately, no terrorist charges or jail terms will be imposed on Verma, but he might be facing a very expensive lesson in his latest Spanish court case. If found guilty, the teen will be required to pay the Spanish defense ministry up to $120,000 to cover the cost of the fighter jet deployment, which we think is on the cheap side.

Verma insists that "the intention was never to cause public distress or cause public harm" and nonetheless regrets his "moment of madness".