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.

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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.


by: ADRIENNE from: MIAMI
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
good

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

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