DENVER (CN) – A Denver teenager booked a flight to join terrorists, but Lufthansa airlines told her father she had not bought a ticket at all, so she had to be rescued in Germany by the FBI, the man claims in court.
Assad Ibrahim sued Lufthansa German Airlines on Monday in Denver County Court, alleging negligence, concealment and false representation.
Ibrahim’s daughter, “H.A.M.,” now 17, showed up at the Lufthansa ticket counter at Denver International Airport on Oct. 18 last year, cash in hand, and bought a one-way ticket to Istanbul. With her were two friends, also minors, all of them dressed in black and wearing head scarves, Ibrahim says. They paid $2,700 in cash and were given tickets.
The four-page lawsuit does not say what became of the other girls.
The girls had been chatting on Twitter with members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, known also as ISIL or ISIS, and had converted to Islam, according to media reports.
Ibrahim, worried because his daughter had not come home from school that day, saw on her phone logs that she had called Lufthansa Airlines.
“Ibrahim proceeded to call Lufthansa, at which time he identified himself as the father of a minor child who he believed might be traveling, without authorization, on Lufthansa. Ibrahim inquired whether his daughter H.A.M. had been issued a Lufthansa ticket for travel that day, and was explicitly told that she had not,” he says in the complaint.
Had he been told the truth, he would have headed to the airport to stop her, his attorney Anthony Viorst said. But instead he looked elsewhere, while the girls boarded the 6 p.m. flight to Istanbul, first stop, Frankfurt, Germany.
He called the airline and asked if his daughter had purchased a ticket with them, and a Lufthansa representative said that she had not.
“My client called the FBI – and this is after he called Lufthansa,” Viorst said. “If Lufthansa would have told him the truth, he would have come down there and gotten her ass, and gotten her home.”
The FBI intercepted the girls in Frankfurt before they boarded the connecting flight to Istanbul. So a problem that could have been handled in Denver became an international story, and Ibrahim’s daughter was brought home to face possible criminal penalties.
Had Lufthansa told her father what had happened, Viorst said, “She would have been in time out, but she wouldn’t have been subjected to the penalties she suffered.”
Those penalties include a probationary sentence in Arapahoe County Court, and a place on the no-fly list.
Ibrahim says the media brouhaha hurt his reputation and his limousine business.
“His private limo business has gone downhill,” Viorst said. “They both just have a lot of disapproval from the community and they both have … suffered from that.”
Despite worldwide reporting on the brutalities committed by ISIL, it has managed to recruit dozens or hundreds of young people from the United States and Europe.
Lufthansa did not reply to a request for comment Wednesday.
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