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Thursday, 4 July, 2002, 04:56 GMT 05:56 UK
Saddam's stepson detained in Miami
Saddam Hussein
Saffi's mother married Saddam Hussein
A stepson of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has been detained in Miami, where he was to attend flight school training.

Mohammad Saffi was arrested on immigration charges for failing to obtain the proper visa clearance, the FBI said.

Mohammad Saffi
Saffi was monitored by federal agents
Agents with a federal anti-terrorism task force arrested Mr Saffi at a Miami hotel, FBI spokeswoman Judy Orihuela said.

Mr Saffi, a flight engineer with Air New Zealand, was reportedly due to take a course at Aero Service, an aviation school near Miami International Airport.

Mr Saffi flew from New Zealand and entered the US in Los Angeles. He was monitored by federal agents as he made his way to Miami.

"He was coming here for flight engineer training," Ms Orihuela said.

But he did not have the student visa required for foreign citizens to attend flight schools in the US, she added.

Visa crackdown

Mr Saffi was taken to a detention centre south of the city to await deportation, Ms Orihuela said.


We find the circumstance to be somewhat disturbing

Jim Goldman, an assistant director INS
Mr Saffi was born in 1966. Miami television station WSVN reported that his mother, Samira Shahbandar, a former flight attendant, was the Iraqi leader's mistress in the late 1980s and that they later married.

He has lived in New Zealand for the past six years.

It is not known how the US authorities were tipped off about Mr Saffi's connection to Saddam.

Jim Goldman, an assistant director with the US Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), told a Miami television station: "We find the circumstance to be somewhat disturbing".

The US has tightened visa requirements for foreigners attending flight training schools in the wake of the 11 September terror attacks.

Some of the alleged hijackers who attacked New York and Washington trained at flight schools in Florida.

See also:

09 Apr 02 | Americas
08 Apr 02 | Americas
07 Jan 02 | Americas
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