Home |  Resume |  Column Service |  Writing Samples |  spot4news.com |  Biography |  Books |  Links
Writing samples / editorial/column

Thoughtful commentary on current events without the wait!

Publishers and editors: Get timely editorials on very current events delivered to your e-mailbox every Sunday! Your competition is waiting days and days for the syndicates to deliver commentary on breaking news. Have it ready to run as soon as your Monday issue! Contact me by e-mail at tmcolumns@hotmail.com for more details!

Click here for many more samples!

Playing paddy cake with Saddam's stepson


In March, we took the Immigration and Naturalization Service to task in this space for issuing visas to students at a Florida flight school over a year and a half after they had completed training.

To make matters worse, the two students “approved” were among the September 11 hijackers, and their “approval” came six months after they died in their suicide attacks.

We closed that column with the tongue-in-cheek statement, “Law-abiding American citizens should be scared. Let’s just hope Saddam Hussein doesn’t apply for a visa.”

Well, how about his stepson?

It is said that truth can be stranger than fiction. It doesn’t get much stranger than the stepson of the Iraqi dictator, considered one of the most dangerous men in the world and a probable co-conspirator with Al Qaeda, coming to this country and enrolling in the VERY SAME Florida flight school as one of the September 11 hijackers did!

As the story has been reported, Mohammed Nour al-Din Saffi, 36, a citizen of New Zealand, entered the United States recently on a tourist visa prepared to study at Aerospace Aviation Center in Florida. An engineer with Air New Zealand, Saffi apparently was sent by his employer to receive pilot recertification. But the INS does not recognize a tourist visa as being legal for someone who is entering the country to study.

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

Apparently Saddam took a liking to al-Shahbandar, and as they say in Iraq, what Saddam wants, Saddam gets. Reports indicate that Saddam “persuaded” the elder Saffi to divorce al-Shahbandar so that Saddam could then marry her. (He didn’t divorce his own wife, however, and now has two wives.) The elder Saffi was “compensated” for his willingness to divorce his wife by being promoted to head Iraqi Airways, but was later fired by Saddam and is believed to be living in exile in neighboring Jordan.

Mohammed Saffi is believed to have left Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War -- first to Jordan and then to New Zealand where he has been for six years -- following an argument with his mother, according to reports.

The reason for the argument was not clear, but according to reports, he and his father were afraid of Saddam’s wrath. Smart men.

The available information indicates the stepson and the stepfather are not close. And neighbors of Saffi’s in Auckland, New Zealand, told reporters that he and his family seemed like an average family.

The INS’s reaction to all of this is to deport Saffi because he entered the country on the wrong kind of visa. That is probably the correct response in 99.9 percent of such cases.

But hey, are we at war, or are we playing paddy cake?

We have the stepson of one of the most evil dictators on Earth, and a sworn enemy of the United States, entering the country as a tourist and then enrolling in a flight school. And the response of our government seems to be, oops, you made a boo-boo, Mr. Saffi. We’re going to have to send you home now. Have a nice day.

Saffi may be an innocent victim in all of this. He may be a hard-working New Zealander who was attempting to further his career by receiving training in the United States.

But haven’t we seen enough of people living seemingly average, non-descript, soccer-mom and -dad-type lives who emerge from the shadows to commit mayhem? It happened on Independence Day when an Egyptian immigrant living a classic suburban life with a wife and two kids in Irvine, California, showed up at Los Angeles International Airport with loaded firearms and started shooting at people at the check-in counter of El Al Airlines, the national airline of Israel. Unconfirmed reports indicated that the shooter -- who killed two civilians before being killed himself -- had ties to the Egyptian jihad, one of the many international terror groups which seem to be merging under the leadership of Al Qaeda.

We should have seen enough of this to decide that if Saddam Hussein’s stepson enters the country illegally and attempts to enter into a flight school, it’s worth more than a reprimand.

Is anyone else suspicious that Saddam’s stepson seems to think it’s no big deal for him to come to the United States and receive flight training? Why don’t we just call up the bin Laden clan and have them all come on down as well?

This is war, and in war time, there is nothing wrong with doing what you need to do to get a tactical advantage. What we should have done is found a nice holding cell for Mr. Saffi and let him sit for awhile -- a long while. That would hopefully send a message to Saddam and the terrorist community that if you’re going to continue to plot to destroy America, it’s not all right for your families to enjoy the benefits of life here.

Sometimes we are trusting to a fault, and this is one of those times.

This column was written July 6, 2002, and published in several print publications across the country.

Home |  Resume |  Column Service |  Writing Samples |  Ventures |  Biography |  Books |  Links