Syria girls alert ‘3 days too late’

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Published: Tuesday 24th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Turkey has criticised British authorities for taking three days to alert the country over the schoolgirls believed to have travelled to Syria through Istanbul.

Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and 15-year-old Amira Abase are being hunted in the country after they boarded a flight from Gatwick Airport to Istanbul last Tuesday, thought to be intent on joining the so-called Islamic State (IS) terror group.

Turkish deputy prime minister Bulent Arinc told reporters that British officials would be accountable should the search prove fruitless because of the delay.

He said: “It is a condemnable act for Britain to let three girls … come to Istanbul and then let us know three days later. They haven’t taken the necessary measures.

“The search is ongoing. It would be great if we can find them. But if we can’t, it is not us who will be responsible, but the British.”

It comes after Prime Minister David Cameron urged airlines and internet companies to do more to prevent radicalised British teenagers travelling to the Middle East.

Earlier, the girls’ headteacher said he was “shocked and saddened” by the girls’ disappearance, but said police had not found evidence that they were radicalised at school.

Mark Keary, principal of Bethnal Green Academy in east London, said police spoke to the girls after another student disappeared in December and indicated at the time that there was no evidence that they were at risk of being radicalised or absconding.

He also said access to social media at the school was “strictly regulated”. A tweet sent from a Twitter account under Shamima’s name was sent to Aqsa Mahmood, who left Glasgow for Syria to be a “jihadi bride” in 2013.

Published: Tuesday 24th February 2015 by The News Editor

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