Arab princess who married U.S. Marine travels home

Sunday, September 30, 2001

LAS VEGAS -- The Bahraini princess who fled her homeland to marry a U.S. Marine is returning home because her family fears for her safety in America, the couple's attorney said Friday.

"She just told me she was going back. Her mother is concerned," attorney Jeff Conway said.

Meriam Al-Khalifa Johnson, 20, was spirited from Bahrain in November 1999 by Jason Johnson using forged documents and the help of some friends. She said in June she had not spoken with her parents since.

Conway said at some point, Al-Khalifa Johnson and her family began speaking again and her parents expressed concern in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Bahrain is an Islamic, Arab monarchy; Muslim- and Arab-Americans have complained of assaults, vandalism and other discrimination since the attacks.

Conway said Al-Khalifa Johnson has been in Washington, D.C., since Thursday, coordinating her trip home and may have already left for Bahrain.

A message left on the couple's answering machine was not immediately returned on Friday evening. Conway said he did not know whether the couple was separating.

"Jason said he just loves his wife very much," Conway said.

The couple met while Johnson, 26, was assigned to a unit providing security for Americans on Bahrain, a small island off the eastern coast of Saudi Arabia that also is the regional base for the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.

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