How a Small Mistake Spawned a Viral Story About a 'Terrorist' Baby

April 17th 2017

Danielle DeCourcey

A grandfather accidentally listed a three-month-old baby as a terrorist and the story has gone viral, the incident highlighting the absurdity of a question on U.S. travel forms and the pitfalls of not paying close attention.

Paul Kenyon and his family, who live in the U.K., were planning a trip to Orlando, Florida. Kenyon filled out a travel visa form online for his grandson Harvey Kenyon-Cairns. That's where he screwed up.


The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) asked Kenyon this question about his grandson: “Do you seek to engage in or have you ever engaged in terrorist activities, espionage, sabotage, or genocide?”

Kenyon responded "yes" instead of "no," resulting in his grandson being denied a travel visa. Kenyon had to travel with the child to the U.S. embassy in London for questioning, according to The Guardian.

“Baby Harvey was good as gold for the interview and never cried once. I thought about taking him along in an orange jumpsuit, but thought better of it,” Kenyon told the Guardian. “They didn’t appear to have a sense of humor over it at all and couldn’t see the funny side."

The mistake cost the family $3,800, the child missing his original flight. 

“It was a very expensive mistake, but I was hoping the U.S. embassy would realize that it was just a simple error without us having to jump through all the hoops,” Kenyon told The Guardian. “If you were a terrorist, I suspect you’d not be ticking yes on the ESTA form anyway.”

One tweet pointed out the absurdity of U.S. embassy's response to the mistake. 

People in the U.S. are more likely to be shot by a toddler than to be killed by a terrorist (they're also more likely to die from cancer, heart disease, and an accident involving a home appliance).

"Far from being foreign infiltrators, the large majority of jihadist terrorists in the United States have been American citizens or legal residents. Moreover, while a range of citizenship statuses are represented, every jihadist who conducted a lethal attack inside the United States since 9/11 was a citizen or legal resident," a 2017 analysis by New America, a terrorism think tank, stated.

No babies have ever been charged with a terrorism offense, either.

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