Crime

Man held in Turkey for helping UK girls into Syria

Kadiza Sultana, Amira Abase and Shamima Begum

Kadiza Sultana, Amira Abase and Shamima Begum- the three schoolgirls from Bethnal Green Academy now believed to be in the Islamic state in Syria. Image: Composite from Met Police images.

The Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has announced that the authorities there have detained a man for helping the missing Bethnal Green Academy schoolgirls travel to war-torn Syria.

He said:

Police have held a man in custody they believe was helping three British schoolgirls to travel into Syria. I had informed UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond of the development, and the man is not a national of the US or an EU state.

The Met Police Counter Terrorism Command in London are continuing to investigate the circumstances  in which Shamima Begum, Amira Abase, both 15, and Kadiza Sultana, 16, left their homes last month without telling their parents to travel to join the self-styled Islamic state.

The police believe the man they’ve detained works for the intelligence agency of a country which is part of the alliance against Islamic State (IS) militants.

A Turkish government official said the suspect has been detained for over a week.

Mr Cavusoglu told broadcaster A Haber TV in an interview:

This person was caught. It turned out to be someone who worked in the intelligence services of a country in the coalition.

The girls flew to Turkey from Gatwick and were last seen on CCTV at a bus station in Istanbul.

Met detectives believe they are now in Syria with Islamic State extremists.

It’s believed that someone drove them to a border crossing point controlled by people smugglers before being met there by IS militants.

UK police officers have travelled to Turkey to investigate since the incident and are continuing to work closely with the Turkish police.

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