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Saddam Stepson Arrested in US - 2002-07-04

Federal officials have arrested a stepson of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in Miami on immigration charges.

The FBI said Thursday Mohammed Saffi, 36, planned to take flight engineer instruction, but lacked the student visa required for foreign nationals to enroll in U.S. flight training schools.

Mr. Saffi was arrested Wednesday in a Miami hotel, and is being held by immigration authorities. He is expected to be deported to New Zealand, where news reports say he has lived for several years, working for the national airline.

U.S. authorities said they have no evidence linking Mr. Saffi to any terrorist organization. But a U.S. immigration official describes the circumstances surrounding his arrest as "disturbing."

Some of the hijackers involved in the September 11th terrorist attacks had received training at Florida flight schools.

In the wake of the attacks, U.S. immigration officials have toughened visa requirements for foreigners wishing to attend flight schools.

Mohammed Saffi has declined to discuss his relationship with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. News reports say he is the son of the Iraqi leader's second wife, and reportedly left the country several years ago. He has since become a naturalized citizen of New Zealand.