FBI working with TSA, others investigating Arabic tweet tagging Charleston airport

FBI working with TSA, others investigating Arabic tweet tagging Charleston airport

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The FBI confirmed it was working with other law enforcement agencies to investigate a tweet composed apparently in Arabic that tagged the Charleston International Airport and similar tweets that tagged other airports.

"We are aware of that tweet," FBI spokesman Paul Bresson said Friday from Washington, DC. "We are working together with the TSA and other law enforcement agencies."

The Transportation Security Agency confirmed on Thursday afternoon that the tweet was being investigated, but that it did not appear to be threatening, a sentiment echoed by the FBI.

"It doesn't appear that this Twitter posting represents any direct threat," Bresson said.

An airport spokesman says the airport considers the tweet to be spam and said it was business as usual Thursday at the airport.

The Twitter post, directed toward the airport's Twitter account, contains foreign characters. When translated from Arabic through the Bing-powered translator on Twitter's website, the result appears to be mostly gibberish.

"@CHS_Airport I love the good of the whole people and mandersh defect..," the translated message reads in part.

Similar tweets have been sent to specific airlines over the past couple of weeks, according to TSA spokesman Mark Howell in Atlanta. However, Howell says this is the first instance he has heard of in which a tweet mentions a specific airport.

Bresson said the FBI has monitored similar tweets.

Accompanying the tweet is a YouTube video that appears to have been recorded outdoors next to an open vehicle and features a man who speaks in a foreign language.

When YouTube's built-in translator attempts to convert it to English, it produces more gibberish.

Dr. Ghazi Abuhakema, the Director of Asian Studies at the College of Charleston described it as a very informal conversation between two Moroccans, and said after listening to the recording, he and other friends concluded the incoherent message did not directly or indirectly include any threats.

The tweet got the attention of the TSA and the Department of Homeland Security, which monitor social media networks for potential threats.

Several planes have been diverted and passengers inconvenienced in recent weeks after threats were made online against airlines and specific flights. The government has been working to identify the people responsible for making those threats.

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