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Monday, November 21, 2005

Shepparton sisters home after Damascus ordeal

This just in from The Age (Images Courtesy of ABC News):

Two Shepparton sisters caught in a security scare in Syria arrived home last night, relieved to be back in Australia. The pair, Hawra al-Moussawi, 16, and her 12-year-old sister, Zainab, were returning with relatives from Iraq when the group of seven were detained amid fears of a hijacking plot. Their father, Sadiq al-Moussawi, who did not travel overseas, said the suggestion they were planning to hijack the plane was "unbelievable".

(Some of the women held by Syrian authorities over hijacking fears are greeted at Sydney airport after the group's return to Australia)

Mr Moussawi said his three-year-old nephew had picked up an empty gun cartridge while visiting relatives in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf and it then became entangled with one of the boy's toys. The group included Mr Moussawi's mother, sister-in-law, nephew and two daughters, who are all Australian citizens, and two Iraqi women on spouse visas who married into his family. They were detained at Damascus airport on Tuesday. They had been planning to board a flight to Australia, via Bahrain. Mr Moussawi said it was ridiculous to suggest his 65-year-old mother, who had a bad heart, poor eyesight and a fear of flying, might have been involved in something like that.

The group flew in to Sydney on Sunday night, where most of the family live. Mr Moussawi drove his daughters home to Shepparton yesterday. The family are Shiite Muslims who fled Saddam Hussein's regime in 1991. Mr Moussawi runs Ammar Autos in Shepparton and is a well-known local businessman. Shepparton's Iraqi Association president, Adnan al-Ghazal, said the family had been the victims of manipulative Syrian authorities. The Syrian embassy could not be contacted late yesterday afternoon. A Gulf Air spokesman, who last week was reported as saying ammunition had been discovered in one of the women's bags, yesterday said he was misquoted.

----------------------Some points to ponder upon------------------------------

1) Gulf Air's spokesperson states he's been misquoted by the media (the GDN report indicates that last Friday 'he confirmed a dismantled gun had been found'). Furthermore, IC Wales yesterday carried a report stating: 'A spokesman for Gulf Air in Australia, David Baker, said the pieces of the gun were in the cabin luggage and there were bullets in luggage that got into the aircraft's hold'. So who's beating around the bush? MSM (Main Stream Media) or Gulf Air?

2) A war souvenir has been phrased as a dangerous weapon by airport and airline officials.

3) Earlier on, MSM and Gulf Air were quick to arrive at a ready conclusion of the possibility of plane hijacking and ammunition. Where's the reliability of reporting by MSM? Will anyone want to fly Gulf Air after this whole episode - was it their mishandling that led to the confusion or how exactly could Gulf Air have tackled this whole situation?

4) Will the GDN (Gulf Daily News), Bahrain Tribune and MSM get some honest reporting going on regarding the facts of this story? Well that remains to be seen....

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