Connecticut Teen Found After Flying to Morocco to Meet Facebook Boyfriend Says She Had Parents’ Permission

rebecca arthur simo el adala
Clinton Police Department

A Connecticut teen reported missing after flying to Morocco to see a boyfriend she met online says she had her parents' permission to travel there, according to Moroccan media outlet Hespress.

Rebecca Arthur, 17, of Clinton, Connecticut, was found safe Friday morning in the seaside community of Essaouira, where she has been staying with her Moroccan boyfriend and his family since flying out from John F. Kennedy International Airport on Monday.

Arthur's mother dropped her off at the terminal and told police she believed her daughter was going to California to visit a friend.

That's not the story Arthur tells.

"I am safe and OK with my boyfriend Simo and his family, and I have my parents' permission to come here and visit and spend time with him," a young woman identifying herself as Arthur says in a video published by Hespress.

The camera then pans to Arthur's boyfriend, who police say is Simo El Adala. The two met online about a year ago and have been dating for six months, despite never having met in person until Arthur got off the plane Tuesday in Casablanca, Morocco, according to police.

El Adala explains in Arabic that he has spoken with Arthur's mother over Skype and insists the teen's family was aware of her plans.

He says one of Arthur's friends may have been jealous of their relationship and told the teen's mother he was going to kidnap her and recruit her to join ISIS.

El Adala denies any wrongdoing and displays what appears to be a notarized parental permission slip that allows minors to travel abroad. Police have said that permission slip may have been forged.

They said El Adala also misled his family and arranged the trip without his parents' knowledge or consent.

A woman claiming to be his mother, however, says in another Hespress video she knew ahead of time what the young couple had planned – and was under the impression Arthur's parents did too. She goes on to say she was aware of her son's Facebook relationship with Arthur and was surprised to learn the Connecticut teen had been classified as "missing."

Travel to Morocco can be dangerous because of "the potential for terrorist violence against U.S. interests and citizens," according to the U.S. State Department, which urges Americans in Morocco to "maintain a low profile."

Local police enlisted the help of the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and U.S. consulate in Morocco after Arthur's parents reported her missing.

Arthur's family did not respond to multiple requests for comment Friday. Clinton police have not commented on the Hespress videos.

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