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Parents Want End To Iraqi Journey

Family members of a 16-year-old Florida prep school student who trekked to Iraq on a journey motivated by a self-proclaimed sense of responsibility and journalistic zeal on Saturday anxiously awaited his return home from the Middle East.

Farris Hassan was in Kuwait, after being evacuated from Baghdad by the U.S. military. In a phone call home, Hassan told them was scheduled to leave Kuwait city on a Monday flight, his sister, Shehnaz Hassan said. The family hoped to secure an earlier flight on Sunday, but they declined to provide further details.

The ambitious teen — who arrived in the Iraqi capital with little more than $1,800, an Arabic phrase book and good intentions — seems unaware of the international media stir he's caused, his sister said.

"He said he was OK. He asked me what was going on. He saw my mom and brother on TV. He had no idea there was so much commotion going on," Shehnaz said.

Hassan left Baghdad on Friday, signaling the end of a dangerous journey to Iraq that was full of twists and turns.

The high school junior took the trip from Florida to Kuwait without telling his parents. He has been the subject of national news stories since he contacted The Associated Press' Baghdad bureau Tuesday and related his globe-trotting odyssey.

Hassan, who attends Pine Crest School — a private school of about 700 students in Fort Lauderdale — left the United States on Dec. 11 and traveled to Kuwait, where he thought he could take a taxi into Baghdad and witness the Dec. 15 parliamentary elections.

Instead, the border was closed, and he went to stay with family friends in Beirut, Lebanon, before flying to Baghdad on Christmas.

Hassan had recently studied immersion journalism, and wanted to understand better what Iraqis are living through by living the life of his subject.

"I thought I'd go the extra mile for that, or rather, a few thousand miles," he told AP in an interview earlier this week.

Dr. Redha Hassan, the teen's father, said Saturday that he has been working to bring his son home since finding out he was in Kuwait. He did not discuss the specifics of Hassan's travel plans because of safety concerns.

He said he has received dozens of phone messages requesting interviews.

"The subject is Farris, his safety, his mission, why did he go?" Redha Hassan said. "The kid put his life on the line while other kids were having fun during Christmas and New Year."

The teenager was able to secure an Iraqi entry visa because both of his parents were born in Iraq, though they've been in the United States for more than three decades.

This is not the first time the Hassan family has landed in the limelight. CBS News correspondent Jim Acosta reports Dr. Redha Hassan was arrested for selling bogus passports to Iraqi refugees, but the charges were later dropped. Acosta reports it was apparently Dr. Hassan who

The State Department and embassy have warned against traveling to Iraq. Forty American citizens have been kidnapped since the war started in March 2003, of whom 10 have been killed, a U.S. official said. About 15 remain missing.

When Hassan returns home, his parents' possible punishment may not be the only discipline he has to face. School officials have expressed concern over his actions and have asked to have a meeting with both parents before he's allowed to come back.

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