News / Africa

VOA Exclusive: Teen Stowaway's Father Says Allah Protected Son

People make their way into Terminal A at Mineta San Jose International Airport near the Hawaiian Airlines gates, April 21, 2014, in San Jose, Calif.
People make their way into Terminal A at Mineta San Jose International Airport near the Hawaiian Airlines gates, April 21, 2014, in San Jose, Calif.
Mohamed Olad
The father of a teen stowaway who survived a five-and-a-half hour flight to Hawaii this week hidden in a jetliner’s wheel well said Allah saved him from the dangers and extreme temperatures.
“When I watched the analysis about the extraordinary and dangerous trip of my son on local TVs and that Allah had saved him, I thanked God and I was very happy,” Abdilahi Yusuf Abdi, who lives in Santa Clara, California, told VOA’s Somali service in an exclusive interview on Wednesday.

Authorities have not named the teen who flew Sunday from San Jose to Maui in the wheel compartment of a Hawaiian Airlines jet and likely passed out, enduring below zero temperatures and low oxygen levels.

The father identified his son to VOA as Yahya Abdi and said he is recovering in a Hawaii hospital.

In Maui, the teen crawled out of the wheel well about an hour after the Boeing 767 landed and was spotted by airport workers on the tarmac. He remains in the custody of Hawaii child welfare services workers.

The father said he first received the news in a phone call from the Hawaii department police.
“They told me that they were holding my son,” he said. “I was shocked. I wondered how my son went there.”
“They tried to explain to me about the stowaway and the plane story,” the father said. “I got confused, and asked them to call the San Jose police department which later explained to me how things happened.”
Abdi said his son was at home on Friday.
“He was with us on Friday noon,” he said “We prayed the Friday prayers together.”
According to media reports in Hawaii and California, the boy jumped a fence at San Jose International Airport shortly after 1:00 a.m. Sunday and remained on the tarmac for six hours without being detained by authorities. Authorities say surveillance footage shows the teen jumping the fence.

The teen had argued with is family and was trying to fly out to see his mother in Somalia, unidentified law enforcement officials said. The teen reportedly told investigators that he crawled into the belly of the Hawaiian Airlines plane because it was closest to the fence. He had nothing with him but a comb, they said.

When asked what forced the teen to take the risky trip, the father said: “He did not receive education when he was in Africa. Since we came here he had learning challenges at school. He was not good at math and science and I think he had a lot of education problems bothering him.”
Media reports in California said the teen recently transferred to Santa Clara High School and fellow students described him as shy.
“He was very quiet person,” his father said. “He was always busy with watching the TV and using computer. I can say he was really cool boy.”
The father said his son often talked about Africa.
“He was always talking about going back to Africa, where his grandparents still live,” he said. “We want to go back, but due to the current living conditions we can’t go back.”
The father said that he was informed by authorities in Hawaii that the teen is going through health checks and that he would be returned home soon.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: Sunshine from: San Jose
April 27, 2014 5:45 PM
How sad & dispointing. 6 years with out talking to his mother. Most Africa men are disgustingly dishonest & have no respect for the mother of their children. I can't believe he told his children their mother passed away. I hope god will open the father's eye & heart to understand the important of honesty. Please connect the poor kid with his mom.

by: Shiek from: South africa
April 25, 2014 5:26 PM
I listen the bbc interview with his mom crying saying he didnt hear frm her children for six years and the boy was told that his mom died and the boy discoved him mom is alive and she is in a refugee camp in ethopie may be he wished just to see his mother' wish the united states will reunite with there mother thats makes him take the risk' and please stop calling refugees terorists.
In Response

by: Helayne from: US
April 28, 2014 4:36 PM
It is not the responsibility of the US to reunite this law breaker teen with his mother. Let the father buy the boy a one-way ticket to Somalia and he can stay there where he belongs.

by: Anonymous
April 25, 2014 2:58 PM
once alah next time nobady

by: Lou from: Atlanta
April 25, 2014 8:46 AM
He HAD to have known what he was doing! He had to have knowledge about the plane.
Somebody put him up to this. A boy this age should be thinking about girls.
In Response

by: justime from: Rochester
April 26, 2014 1:22 PM
A few days before this event there was an Arnold Shwarseneger movie on AMC in which he gets in wheel well of plane and takes off on it------I wonder.

by: saga sund from: Seattle
April 25, 2014 7:16 AM
And why nobody invites his mom to America?

by: Rebecca from: Florida
April 24, 2014 6:00 PM
I agree with the lady from Ohio in every aspect. I wish the boy and his family the best and know full well that all Somali's are not terrorists nor are all Muslims terrorists. This family sounds nice and they are certainly welcome in the U.S. and have the constitutional right to practice the religion of their choice. The boy needs tutoring classes to catch up with school is all.

April 24, 2014 5:57 PM
Now we know where to go for low airfares, but must dress warmly, head to toe.
Also, great healthcare without being charged.

by: Shari Riggs from: Dayton, Ohio U.S.A.
April 24, 2014 9:40 AM
Thank goodness this young boy is safe. So many things couldve happened to this young boy. Im very happy he will be safely returned to his family. Hopefully someone can offer him free assistance in his education since this seems to be his biggest motivation in leaving. Someone also should make sure he can be in better contact with his family in Africa.

by: Sisinta from: Nairobi, Kenya
April 24, 2014 3:04 AM
First, the stowaway teen is very lucky, he survived more than five hour flight ordeal over the pacific ocean.
Surprisingly very lucky that he was not accused and charged for being a terrorist by the FBI. It's worldwide known that America is the worst place to be young black Muslim immigrant.
In Response

by: Helayne from: US
April 28, 2014 4:49 PM
Then why do they come here in droves?
In Response

by: Ian from: USA
April 24, 2014 10:08 AM
How is that America is the worst place to be a young black Muslim immigrant ?
and worldwide known fact?

Please don't buy into rumor and don't spread ill information about my country! This country is as safe if not safer for many "legal" immigrants from all over the world & from all religious background. Americans are as laissez-faire as any other countries if not more .

Ask yourself a question, if America is not a good place , why do peoples with "a dream" still come & many peoples are even willing to take the risk as illegal immigrants .

by: Asa Trong from: Vietnam
April 24, 2014 12:59 AM
Allah fell in deep sleep, when Malaysian Airline went its own way of destruction.
In Response

by: Anonymous
April 25, 2014 2:59 PM
In Response

by: Maryan from: Minnesota
April 25, 2014 2:03 AM
Tell me how can a God sleep? Not possible. Stop attributing human characteristics to Allah. He is none like His creations. The Malaysian Airline is a trial among many in this world. To Allah we belong and to Him we shall return.
In Response

by: lisa from: atlanta
April 24, 2014 9:50 PM
The same Allah you talk about is the same Allah that you worship and beg for help when you say" O God please help me". Allah JUST means GOD. God never sleeps...... also ask any trustful official that new about the flight, they'll tell you they new the location of that fight when it fell long time ago. Don't be brainwashed.
In Response

by: KP from: Canada
April 24, 2014 8:45 PM
How rude of you to say!
In Response

by: Patricia Murray from: Canada
April 24, 2014 9:29 AM
So true
Comments page of 2

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syriai
November 26, 2015 5:21 AM
Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs