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Saddam's Stepson Is Deported

Saddam Hussein's stepson has been deported to New Zealand after being detained on immigration violations when he arrived in Florida planning to take a class at a Florida flight school attended by one of the Sept. 11 hijackers.

Mohammed Nour al-Din Saffi, 36, will remain in federal custody until he arrives in New Zealand, where he is a naturalized citizen, said Rodney Germain, an Immigration and Naturalization Services spokesman in Miami.

No criminal charges are pending, Germain said Tuesday.

The deportation on Monday was widely expected after Saffi was detained last week because he did not apply for a student visa that would have allowed him to take courses. Instead he traveled as a tourist under a visa waiver as a citizen of New Zealand.

Saffi was working for an airline in New Zealand and planned to attend classes at Aeroservice Aviation Center, a Miami-based flight school, according to the FBI.

FBI spokeswoman Judy Orihuela said that Ziad Jarrah had trained at the Aerospace Aviation Center. Jarrah was one of the hijackers aboard a United Airlines flight that crashed in rural Pennsylvania on Sept. 11.

Authorities in New Zealand have said there is no evidence that Saffi is connected to any terrorist group.

Saffi is the eldest son of Samira al-Shahbandar, a former flight attendant who became Saddam's second wife. His father is Nour al-Din Saffi, an aviation engineer and former head of Iraqi Airways.

The United States toughened visa requirements for foreign citizens attending flight schools after the Sept. 11 hijacked plane attacks on New York and Washington. Some of the hijackers implicated in the attacks, which killed some 3,000 people, had trained at Florida flight schools and received training on flight simulators in Miami.

According to a December 12 report in the New Zealand Herald, Saffi worked for Air New Zealand, lived in Auckland with his family and has been in New Zealand since at least 1997.

The newspaper said New Zealand authorities investigated his background last year after the Sept. 11 attacks and after learning of his connection with the Iraqi president but took no action.

The newspaper quoted Saffi as saying that he did not want any publicity and that he did not object to the questioning by New Zealand authorities.

"They have the right to ask any time they want," the newspaper quoted him as saying. "I don't have a problem at all. I do work in a secure area; I do fly with the airplanes as well. ... I think they went and asked all the people who work in aviation all over the world."

It also quoted him as saying he was considering other work options, possibly overseas.