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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Comments page of 2
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by: Amrap Rabo from: Marseille FRANCE
April 23, 2014 7:22 PM
Thanks to VOA for publishing this timely article, although it does seem the boy's name should have remained out of the press, given his age. Best wishes to him for a complete recovery from this ordeal with hope that he and all his family can be safely reunited soon.

by: Omoruyi kelvin from: Nigeria
April 23, 2014 3:35 PM
This is truely the handiwork of Allah
In Response

by: lisa from: atlanta
April 24, 2014 10:01 PM
Don't blame God for the mistakes of other people or yourself. You have the wrong idea of how God works buddy! I could never say or even write what you commented. The true believer is one when Gods name is mentioned his heart trembles with love and fear. It was the mercy of God that he could still live through the event.
In Response

by: Patricia Murray from: Canada
April 24, 2014 9:33 AM
It would seem Allah picks and chooses who he helps. Certainly not the people on the Malaysian flight nor the innocent victims of the terrorists. Where is Allah helping the young girls the Taliban/terrorists kidnapped? Sleeping?
In Response

by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
April 23, 2014 9:12 PM
Well, the long-waited Allah's miraculously handiwork never materialized in Somalia;
Somali diaspora teen stowaway's report did not become local headlines.
Nigerian Boko Haram's sister organization, Al-Shabaab, has gunned down two prominent parliamentarians in downtown, and vowed to hunt down other vocal member of the parliaments. The entire government rushed into hiding from undisclosed places. This fearing environment chilled our hope and caused our heart beat much faster. Now we desperately need God's handiwork to wipe all terrorists off Somalia.
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