A 16-year-old who took off to Iraq alone to experience the lives of its people firsthand, arrived back in Florida on Sunday, ending a three-week Middle East odyssey much to the relief of his parents.
Farris Hassan, who set off for Iraq as a journalism project, was getting a crash course in media as throngs of reporters and photographers waited for him at Miami International Airport and each of his parents' homes.
The teenager had skipped school and left the United States on December 11, traveling to Kuwait, where he thought he could take a taxi into Baghdad to witness the December 15 parliamentary elections. The border was closed for the elections, so Farris went to stay with family friends in Lebanon, before flying to Baghdad on Christmas.
His goal, he said, was to better understand what the Iraqis are living through. The prep school junior had recently studied immersion journalism, in which the writer lives the life of his subject.
The State Department has warned Americans not to visit Iraq. Forty US citizens have been kidnapped since the war started in March 2003, and 10 of them have been killed, US officials say. About 15 are missing.