Florida Teen Returns Home from Iraq Trip Sixteen-year-old Farris Hassan arrives at Miami International Airport, home after secretly hopping a plane to the Middle East and making it all the way to Baghdad. After detours in Kuwait City and Beirut, he made it into Iraq -- with some help from friends of his father in Beirut -- on Christmas Day.
NPR logo

Florida Teen Returns Home from Iraq Trip

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/5079078/5079079" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Florida Teen Returns Home from Iraq Trip

Florida Teen Returns Home from Iraq Trip

Florida Teen Returns Home from Iraq Trip

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/5079078/5079079" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Sixteen-year-old Farris Hassan arrives at Miami International Airport, home after secretly hopping a plane to the Middle East and making it all the way to Baghdad. After detours in Kuwait City and Beirut, he made it into Iraq — with some help from friends of his father in Beirut — on Christmas Day.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

A 16-year-old high school student who caused an international uproar when he traveled by himself from Florida to Iraq over the holidays has made it safely back home. Family members are relieved he's back, although more than a little upset about his impetuous trip to the Middle East. NPR's Phillip Davis reports.

(Soundbite of voices)

PHILLIP DAVIS reporting:

Farris Hassan may have left for Iraq in secret, but the eyes of the world, or at least the media, were on him when he returned last night surrounded by family members at Miami International Airport.

Unidentified Man #1: Farris, Farris...

Unidentified Man #2: How you feeling?

DAVIS: The teen-ager didn't say anything. Just smiled a bit timidly at the crush of reporters. Then he was whisked into a waiting black Mercedes and driven off. A little earlier, before his flight arrived, his mother, Shatha Atiya said that Farris was stunned by the whole experience and all the attention.

(Soundbite of voices)

Ms. SHATHA ATIYA (Farris' Mother): He's just extremely tired and overwhelmed and so am I. So I really appreciate it. We're just going to go home after he comes out.

DAVIS: It's been a nerve-wracking two weeks for Hassan's family who didn't even know where he had disappeared to until he called from Kuwait City on December 12th. Hassan's older brother, Hayder, is a student at Florida University. He remembered how he reacted when he first heard the news.

Mr. HAYDER HASSAN (Farris' Brother): I couldn't speak. I was scared for him. He doesn't speak Arabic. He's a little kid. I was just like how--what has he got himself in to? He has no idea.

DAVIS: Farris Hassan has always been passionate about Iraq. Both his parents are Iraqi, successful immigrants who moved to the US decades ago. At the college prep high school he attends in Ft. Lauderdale, he spent hours researching the war in Iraq for journalism classes. He one essay he wrote, `I feel guilty enjoying the multitude of blessings which I did nothing to deserve while people in Iraq, many of them much better than me, are in terrible anguish.' He also wrote that he wanted to spend Christmas in Iraq, experiencing the same hardships as ordinary Iraqis. Again, brother Hayder.

Mr. HASSAN: He had great intentions. I mean, he wanted to go there and see if he could help, see how it is over there. And as far as that, I mean, I completely respect what he did do in that sense. You know, I respect that he's able to take care of himself. But it's just absolutely not acceptable to do that.

DAVIS: Hassan's parents told him he couldn't go to Iraq. But with his Iraqi heritage, Hassan was able to get an entry visa into the country anyway. He then took his savings to buy a ticket on an airline that allows teens to travel alone. After detours in Kuwait City and Beirut, he made it into Iraq, with some help from friends of his father in Beirut, on Christmas Day. But the 27th, he had been taken under the wing of the US government, which put him on a plane out of the country on Friday. Now that he's back in the US, there may be consequences for Hassan. School officials want to talk to him about skipping class, and Hassan's mother has reportedly warned her son is going to be officially grounded. But first, she said...

(Soundbite of voices)

Ms. ATIYA: I just want to hug him and just take him home and thank God he's fine and alive and home.

DAVIS: Phillip Davis, NPR News, Miami.

Copyright © 2006 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.