Girls may have flown out to join IS

Published: Saturday 21st February 2015 by The News Editor

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Detectives are racing to find three runaway London schoolgirls amid growing concern that they have fled to Syria and joined the brutal Islamic State (IS).

Scotland Yard have are urgently trying to trace Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and an un-named 15-year-old, all from east London.

The three girls who all go to the Bethnal Green Academy school, are described as “straight-A students” and are good friends with another 15-year-old girl who fled to Syria in December.

They flew to Istanbul, in Turkey, from Gatwick Airport on Tuesday without leaving any messages behind and their families are “devastated” by their disappearance, according to Commander Richard Walton, head of the Metropolitan Police’s counter terror command.

He said there was a “good chance” the girls were still in Turkey but the force has been “increasingly concerned” by a growing trend of young girls showing an interest or intent in joining IS, an organisation now notorious for its barbaric treatment of hostages and oppression of women.

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

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

Turkish Airlines did not notify police that the girls were on board the flight.

Mr Walton said: “We are concerned about the numbers of girls and young women who have or are intending to travel to the part of Syria that is controlled by the terrorist group calling themselves Islamic State.

“It is an extremely dangerous place and we have seen reports of what life is like for them and how restricted their lives become.

“It is not uncommon for girls or women to be prevented from being allowed out of their houses or if allowed out, only when accompanied by a guardian.

“The choice of returning home from Syria is often taken away from those under the control of Islamic State, leaving their families in the UK devastated and with very few options to secure their safe return.

“If we are able to locate these girls whilst they are still in Turkey we have a good possibility of being able to bring them home to their families.”

Shamima is described as approximately 5ft 7in, and wearing black thick rimmed glasses, a black hijab, light brown and black leopard print scarf, dark red jumper, black trousers and jacket, carrying a dark blue cylindrical shape holdall with white straps.

She is a British national of Bangladeshi heritage and speaks English with a London accent. She also speaks Bengali.

Kadiza is described as 5ft 6in and of slim build. She was wearing black rimmed glasses, a long black jacket with a hood, grey striped scarf, grey jumper, dark red trousers, carrying a black holdall.

She is also a British national of Bangladeshi heritage and speaks English with a London accent and also speaks Bengali.

The third missing girl, who is not being named, is described as 5ft 6in and of slim build, wearing black thick rimmed glasses, black head scarf, long dark green jacket with fur lined hood, light yellow long sleeved top, black trousers, white trainers carrying a black Nike holdall. She speaks English.

Salman Farsi, spokesman for the East London Mosque, said: “They have been misled. I do not know what was promised to them. It is just sad. We have not had anything like this before in our community.

“I do not know what was told to them but if they do go to Syria, it is a war zone and there are serious ramifications for going in to a war zone. Some of the things we have seen happening in Syria are not very nice.

“We just want to see them brought back.

“I think the girls need to know they have done nothing wrong. They have been manipulated.”

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: “The idea of 15-year-old British schoolgirls setting off to Syria is very disturbing, and shows that more action is urgently needed to stop young people being drawn into extremism and conflict, and to help families and communities who are trying to counteract extremist recruitment messages.”

Published: Saturday 21st February 2015 by The News Editor

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