The Met Police have made an international appeal to prevent three teenage girls from East London making their way to Syria to join the Islamic State.
It’s understood the missing girls are students of the Bethnal Green Academy:
(1) 15 year old Shamima Begum, possibly travelling under the name of Aklima Begum and pretending to be 17 years old.
(2) 16 year old Kadiza Sultana.
(3) The third missing girl is 15-year-old Amira Abase and was not initially named at the request of her family.
All three girls are close friends.
Their families are said to be desperate with anxiety and have made appeals on Turkish media to ask them to come home and prevent them crossing the border.
This is being treated as a missing person’s inquiry.
It’s feared they are hoping to join a fourth friend from their school who is already in Syria and only 15 years old.
They were last seen on Tuesday morning this week at their home addresses.
They left at eight am and told their families they would be out for the day.
Instead they met together and travelled to Gatwick airport.
They boarded Turkish Airlines flight, TK1966, which left at 12.40 to Istanbul, Turkey, and landed there at 6.40 pm local time.
The head of the Counter Terrorism Command, also known as SO15, Commander Richard Walton, said:
We are extremely concerned for the safety of these young girls and would urge anyone with information to come forward and speak to police. Our priority is the safe return of these girls to their families.
We are reaching out to the girls using the Turkish media and social media in the hope that Shamima, Kadiza and their friend hear our messages, hear our concerns for their safety and have the courage to return now, back to their families who are so worried about them.
Shamima is described as approx 5ft 7ins tall, 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 and speaks English with a London accent. She also speaks Bengali.
Kadiza is described as 5ft 6ins tall, of slim build and 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 a British national and speaks English with a London accent. She also speaks Bengali.
Amira is described as 5ft 6ins tall, 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 and Amharic.
Police have been working with the families and overseas authorities since they were reported missing in an attempt to locate the girls and bring them home.
Commander Walton added:
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.
Anyone with any information about where they are should call the incident room via the free phone Anti-Terrorist Hotline number on 0800 789 321.
Commander Walton said: ‘This is not about criminalising people it is about preventing tragedies by offering support to the young and vulnerable.’