The mother of a California teenager who stowed away on a flight to Hawaii told Voice of America that her son had recently learned that she was alive after being told by his father she had died.
Speaking with VOA from a refugee camp in eastern Ethiopia, mother Ubah Mohamed Abdullahi said she felt bad that her son risked his life and that her dream is to live with her children in the United States.
"I cried, felt badly and many people in the refugee camp came to me to give me support," she said.
Abdullahi told VOA that her son was trying to reach her in Africa. She told the news service she was "very shocked" by what her son had gone through and had cried when she found out about it.
"I was told that he did this because of me," she told VOA. "I know his mentality. You know our kids. He was the smartest of them (the kids). I know how he could react."
FBI agents say surveillance video shows the 15-year-old jumping out of the wheel well of a Hawaiian Airlines jet on a Maui tarmac Sunday after surviving a cross-Pacific flight from San Jose, California. He told authorities he had argued with his father before leaving his house.
The 5 1/2-hour flight over the Pacific would have exposed him to sub-zero temperatures and very low temperatures, likely knocking him out for the duration. He has been hospitalized ever since.
The boy's parents are divorced, and he lives with his father, Abdilahi Yusuf Abdi, a cab driver in Santa Clara, California.
Abdullahi said her ex-husband took their three children to California without her knowledge, and that she hadn't heard from them since 2006.
"I know he was looking for me, and I am requesting the U.S. government to help me reunite with my kids," she told VOA
Abdullahi said that a man who was known to her family had recently informed her children that she was alive.
Abdi spoke with VOA's Somali service Wednesday, saying that his son had often talked about going back to Africa, where his grandfathers still lived.
NBC Bay Area's Riya Bhattacharjee contributed to this report.