The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

"Victim of airport confusion"

Here's the implausible story of what happened to those 17 Egyptian students who went AWOL in the USA:

Lawyers for some of the students say they were misunderstood and that the U.S. government has been too hard on them. Some students say they fear persecution if sent back to Egypt.

"They are considered pariahs," said Amy Peck, an Omaha, Neb., lawyer who represents three of the students. "This case has been headlined in Cairo."

The students disappeared right around the time authorities announced a foiled plot to attack U.S.-bound airliners with liquid explosives.

One of the students, Eslam Ibrahim El-Dessouki, says he fell victim to airport confusion. Extra security checks caused him to miss his connecting flight, and he couldn't find the other students, he said in a court statement.

He called an uncle who lived in Minnesota, who suggested he go there so relatives could help, he said. El-Dessouki jumped on a bus and headed to the Midwest.

Mohamed Ibrahim El Sayed El Moghazy, 20, Ahmed Refaat Saad El Moghazi El Laket, 19, and Moustafa Wagdy Moustafa El Gafary, 18, also scattered after arriving in New York. They told Peck, their lawyer, that once they landed at the airport, three other students turned to the rest, bid farewell and took off.

That panicked the remaining members of the group, the three said, because all had been told that if any one of them didn't show up at Montana State University, the rest would lose their passports and immediately get sent back to Egypt.
It sounded all along like these guys wanted to have fun rather than go to some boring seminar about American civics. Stupid of them, but I can certainly understand where they came from.