The bomb hoax that led to Spain scrambling two fighter jets to intercept an EasyJet flight earlier this week was reportedly posted by a teenager on Snapchat, multiple outlets have reported.
The 18-year-old, named as Aditya Verma, wrote: “I’m going to blow this plane up, I’m a Taliban,” on the social media app, per The Times of London.
The teen is said to have claimed behind closed doors that the message was a joke only intended to be seen by the friends he was traveling with, the Mail Online reported.
Verma is now reportedly barred from leaving Spain and could be handed a bill of up to $120,000 to cover the cost of the scrambled jets if found guilty of a public order offence, per The Times.
The alleged bomb hoaxer is also a chess star who had previously represented England and been awarded a prize by former world chess champion, Garry Kasparov, according to The Times.
The newspaper reported Verma is a talented student predicted to achieve three top grades at A-level and has landed a competitive place at the University of Cambridge.
He travelled on an EasyJet flight from London to Menorca on Sunday with five friends. An unnamed relative of Verma told The Times that the holiday was the teenager’s first trip abroad without family.
The family member said that Verma’s friends had jokingly referred to the teen as a member of the Taliban. Verma responded to this by making a Snapchat that “he thought would be internal between the five of them in the group” saying: “Yes I am a Taliban,” the family member told The Times.
Verma’s relative told the newspaper that the post had then been flagged by airport WiFi which had caused an alert.
After the alert, onboard footage of the intercept showed a Spanish F/A-18 Hornet rocking its wings at the EasyJet Airbus A319, a military signal that a plane has been intercepted and its pilot should follow course.
After the plane touched down, passengers were disembarked one by one and luggage was checked by bomb disposal experts and sniffer dogs, Insider reported.