The families of all three missing schoolgirls believed to be travelling via Turkey to join the self-styled Islamic state have made heart-felt pleas to them to come home.
16 year old Kadiza Sultana, 15 year old Shamima Begum, and and 15 year old Amira Abase are described as A starred pupils at the Bethnal Green Academy in Tower Hamlets.
They flew to Turkey on Tuesday.
Their families and the British police are hoping that bad weather has delayed their crossing of the border into Syria.
The family of Kadiza Sultana say: ‘We just want you all to return home, safe and sound.’
Shamima Begum’s family are warning the 16 year old: ‘Syria is a dangerous place and we don’t want you to go there.’
The family of Amira Abase are pleading: ‘You are strong, smart, beautiful and we are hoping you will make the right decision.’
The Prime Minister David Cameron says the situation with the schoolgirls is ‘deeply concerning.’
He told the BBC the British authorities would do ‘everything they can’ to try and help them.
Direct appeal from Amira Abase’s family:
Amira, 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 bright future, so please return home. From family and friends.
Direct appeal from Kadiza Sultana’s family:
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. We have come to learn that you and your friends went missing on Tuesday, 17 February and have been identified to be in Turkey. 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.
Direct appeal from Shamima Begum’s family:
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.
The Met Police spoke to the girls in December 2014 as part of the routine inquiry by officers investigating the disappearance of their 15 year old friend now believed to be living in the Islamic State.
The police say ‘there was nothing to suggest at the time that the girls themselves were at risk and indeed their disappearance has come as a great surprise, not least to their own families.’
The BBC is reporting that the family of a Glasgow woman who may have encouraged three London girls to join Islamic State say officials “failed” to stop them leaving the UK.
20 year old Aqsa Mahmood, who went to Syria to be a ‘jihadi bride’ in 2013, reportedly had online contact with one of the girls who flew to Turkey last week.
Update 4.59 pm 22/2/2015
The Met Police have identified the previously unnammed third teenage girl as Amira Abase and her family have added their heartfelt pleas to those of Kadiza Sultana and Shamima Begum.
Members of each of the girls’ families have given pooled television interviews to the UK media.
Abase Hussen, father of 15-year-old Amira, held a teddy in a Chelsea jersey as he urged his daughter to get in contact.
The sister of Kadiza Sultana, Halima Khanom, asked Kadiza to find the courage in her heart to call her family.
Renu Begum, the older sister of Shamima Begum, said her family are desperate to ‘have their baby home.’
Sky News assembled the interviews into an online page titled: ‘Families Unite In Plea For Missing Schoolgirls.’
Bethnal Green Academy Principal Mark Keary released a statement saying: ‘police have advised us that there is no evidence that radicalisation of the missing students took place at the academy.’
He said: ‘We are all shocked and deeply saddened by the news that three of our students have been reported missing from home, they boarded a flight to Istanbul from Gatwick Airport last week, and our thoughts are with the families of the missing girls at this time.’
Mr Keary faced the media at the academy this morning and insisted: ‘the pupils would have had no access to Twitter or Facebook whilst at school.’