Eintime Conversion for education and research 05-14-2006 @ 17:21:22
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Floridas Ferris Bueller Stuck In Kuwait*

Florida's 'Ferris Bueller' stuck in Kuwait

Teen skipped school to travel alone to Iraq

FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida (CNN) -- Farris Hassan, the Florida teen who traveled alone to the dangerous city of Baghdad, is still in Kuwait and will be there until next week, his sister told CNN.

Shanaz Hassan said the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait informed the family Friday night of the boy's location. It is not known when Farris will leave for the United States or why is is staying so long in Kuwait.

The 16-year-old prep school student planned to visit Iraq this summer with his parents, who are Iraqi, but he decided he could not wait.

His mother Shatha Atiya said Farris used his savings to buy a plane ticket. His parents didn't know about his journey until he told them by e-mail. (Route)

Farris ended up in the Baghdad offices of The Associated Press earlier this week, to the shock of reporter Patrick Quinn.

"I would have been less surprised if little green men walked into the office," Quinn told CNN.

"He actually announced to us that he wanted to join us and become a journalist, and I was quite stunned by this whole thing," he said.

AP staffers contacted the U.S. Embassy, which sent American soldiers to pick him up.

Quinn said the teen was "blissfully ignorant of his surroundings and where he was."

He said, "Farris walked into the most dangerous city on this planet, especially if you are an unaccompanied American, let alone a teenager who doesn't speak any Arabic."

The AP reported that Farris was inspired to make the journey to Baghdad after taking a class on "immersion journalism" at Pine Crest School, a prep academy of about 700 students in Fort Lauderdale.

In an essay he wrote before his journey, Farris expressed his desire to help the people of Iraq and said he felt guilty for living in a large house in South Florida, driving a nice car, and hanging out with friends without the fear of suicide bombers.

AP reporter Jason Straziuso, who spoke to the teen in Baghdad, said Farris appeared to be bright and well-studied, with a strong social conscience. But he added that Farris should have researched his trip to Iraq more thoroughly.

"One of the last things he said to me ... was, 'Now that I've been here, I realize that if I walk down the wrong street, that I seriously could get kidnapped,'" Straziuso said.

"So it is one thing to say 'I accept the danger' when you're back home and you're being idealistic,"he said. "It's another thing to be here and know that the danger is all around you."

Atiya, Farris' mother, told CNN he had asked her for permission to travel to Iraq "to see it firsthand." She added, "When he heard my negative response, he decided to take things in his own hands, I guess."

Atiya said received an e-mail from her son saying, "I'll be in Iraq for awhile" but he did not say how he planned to cross into the country. At his request, Atiya said she faxed documents to help him secure a visa, and after researching the fax number, she learned he was in Kuwait.

His father, Redha Hassan, told The Sun-Sentinel of Fort Lauderale that after Farris failed to cross into Iraq, he told his son he would arrange for security to accompany the teen when the border reopened after the December 15 parliamentary elections.

Hassan said if he had demanded his son come home, "it would leave a scar, disappointing him in his young life," according to the newspaper.

"I learned long ago that if you say no, they stick to the point and insist on doing it," he said. "Nothing fazed him."

After losing contact with their son, Farris' parents called the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad who searched for the boy before they were contacted by AP staffers.

Atiya said she plans to keep a close eye on her son once he returns home.

"Once he's back and safe in my arms, then, yes, he's going to be without privileges as you can imagine," she said.

When Farris returns, his parents' consequences may not be the only ones he has to face. School officials have asked to have a meeting with both parents before he is allowed back in school, the AP reported.

CNN's Patrick Oppmann
(Original Len: 4660 Condensed Len: 4732)

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