The 15-year old who survived in an airplane's wheel well for 5 1/2 hours was on his way to Somalia, according to his refugee mother.
Yahya Abdi climbed a fence at San Jose International Airport on Easter Sunday, and climbed into a wheel well of a plane headed to Hawaii.
In Maui, he told FBI and Transportation Security Administration officials that he had had a fight at home, and climbed into the first plane he saw.
His mother, Ubah Mohammed Abdule, said she knows that her son was trying to get to her.
Abdule, a Somali, lives in Shedder Refugee Camp in Ethiopia with two of Abdi's siblings. She said that her husband, Abdilahi Yusuf Abdi, took Yahya and two of her other children away from her eight years ago.
"He first took the children away from me to Sudan," she told the Associated Press through a translator on April 27.
"Then he came back to Somalia and demanded my consent for him to take the children to the U.S. if I wanted a formal divorce. I was not OK with that and said no.
"Finally, he took all three of my children to the U.S. without my knowledge."
Abdule said that her husband told the three children that she was dead.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Fati Lejeune Kaba said that last year, a former Shedder Camp refugee moved to California, and told the husband and children that Abdule was alive.
Kaba said that the children were distraught.
"The kids were very disappointed, and ended up in a fight with their father, and asked him to send them back to where their mother lived," Kaba told the Associated Press.
"The father still insisted that their mother had died."
That is also allegedly when Yahya concocted his plan.
"Yahya Abdi didn't believe that his mother had died," Kaba stated, "and that's when he resorted to do everything he can to go and find her."
Abdi's sister, Najma, stated that their mother is lying, and their father never took them away.
"I can't believe what she's doing," she told KPIX-TV. "She's lying, yeah, he never do that, my dad."
Abdule, 33, has begun the process to qualify for U.S. immigration. She stated, through tears, that she knew her son missed her.
"My son was silent but intelligent when he was with me. I know he concealed himself in a plane to see me," she said.