US teenager back from journalistic adventure in Iraq


Wed, Jan 04, 2006 - Page 7

Faced with his first school day since his solo trip to Iraq, US teenager Farris Hassan kept a low profile but promised to share more details about his odyssey after getting some rest.

"I'm really tired," the 16-year-old told reporters outside his father's condominium building. "I'm glad to be back."

Farris, who was inspired by a high school journalism class to see Iraq up close, said he would hold a news conference sometime yesterday. He was scheduled to return to classes at Pine Crest School yesterday, after he and his parents meet with officials there to discuss his absence.

One pressing concern for Farris is an upcoming calculus exam, he said.

Farris's mother, Shatha Atiya, said the school has no plans to suspend her son but did want to discuss his decision to skip classes when he began his travels on Dec. 11. Atiya also said there would be "consequences" for not telling his family that he was going to a dangerous war zone.

"I'm just extremely happy he's home safe," she said.

Farris returned home on Sunday night to a throng of reporters and camera crews, then had a steak dinner with his father, his mother said.

Farris was able to secure an entry visa for Iraq because his parents were born there, although they have lived in the US for more than three decades. He took his US passport and US$1,800 in cash when he left, but didn't tell his family what he was doing until he arrived in Kuwait.

He had thought he would be able to take a taxi from Kuwait into Baghdad for the Dec. 15 parliamentary elections, but the border was closed for voting. He stayed with family friends in Lebanon before flying to Baghdad on Dec. 25.

In Iraq, he stayed at an international hotel along with other US citizens, drawing a crowd at a Baghdad food stand after using an Arabic phrase book to order.