Families urge Syria three to return

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Published: Sunday 22nd February 2015 by The News Editor

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Relatives of three missing schoolgirls believed to have fled to Syria to join Islamic State have pleaded for them to return home.

Police are urgently trying to trace Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and 15-year-old Amira Abase after they flew to Istanbul in Turkey from Gatwick Airport on Tuesday.

The girls, who are all from east London, are pupils at Bethnal Green Academy school and have been described as “straight A students”.

In a statement, Amira’s family said: “A mira, We miss you so much, everyone, your family and your friends.

“We want you to come home as soon as possible. All we are hoping for is you to come home safe, we love you so much.

“Please come home Amira, everyone is missing you. You are strong, smart, beautiful and we are hoping you will make the right decision.

“We miss you more that you can imagine. We are worried and we want you to think about what you have left behind.

“You had a bright future, so please return home.”

In a direct message to Shamima, her family said they understood she had “strong feelings” about people she believed were suffering in war-torn Syria but warned it was a “dangerous place”.

In a statement, they said: “We miss you terribly and are extremely worried about you. Please, if you hear this message, get in touch and let us know you are safe. We want you home with us. You belong at home with us.

“Syria is a dangerous place and we don’t want you to go there. Get in touch with the police and they will help to bring you home. You are not in any trouble.

“We understand that you have strong feelings and want to help those you believe are suffering in Syria. You can help from home, you don’t have to put yourself in danger.

“Please don’t cross the border. Please come home to us. Our mum needs you home and is really worried. We are not mad at you, we love you.”

Meanwhile, Kadiza’s family said they were “completely distressed” and were praying for the girls’ safe return.

In a statement, they said: “Our dearest Kadiza and the two friends accompanying you, we, together, sincerely pray and hope this message reaches you. We pray that no harm comes to you, and you are all safe and in good health.

“In your absence, we, as a family, are feeling completely distressed and cannot make sense of why you left home. Due to the speculation that you may be travelling towards Syria, we are extremely worried about your safety.

“As time progresses, our concerns are increasing more and more. We are sending you our heartfelt love, and continue to pray that you along with your friends safely return to us, or at least contact us to let us know you are okay.

“We all love you dearly and the last four days have been a complete nightmare not knowing where you are and how you are keeping.

“We would like to emphasise that we are not angry with you and you have not done anything wrong. We just want you all to return home, safe and sound.

“We miss you terribly, especially mum, and things have not been the same without you.”

Meanwhile, the family of a Glasgow woman now living in Syria, who reportedly contacted at least one of the girls on social media, said they were “full of horror and anger” that their daughter may have helped IS recruit the girls.

In a statement released through their lawyer, the family of 20-year-old Aqsa Mahmood told her: “You are a disgrace to your family and the people of Scotland, your actions are a perverted and evil distortion of Islam. You are killing your family every day with your actions, they are begging you stop if you ever loved them.”

Scotland Yard revealed the three missing girls were previously spoken to by officers investigating the disappearance of a fellow pupil – a 15-year-old girl – who fled to Syria in December.

But there was “nothing to suggest at the time” that the trio were at risk and their disappearance has “come as a great surprise, not least to their own families”, a spokesman said.

The girls left their homes before 8am on Tuesday providing their families with “plausible” reasons as to why they would be out for the day, police said.

They boarded a Turkish Airlines flight, TK1966, which departed at 12.40 to Istanbul, Turkey and landed at 18.40 local time.

Published: Sunday 22nd February 2015 by The News Editor

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