On Tuesday, the families of three teenage girls believed to be headed for Syria were reported missing, after telling their families they were going out for the day. The girls were last seen at Londons Gatwick Airport taking a Turkish Airline flight to Istanbul. Teenagers Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and a third female age 15 who is not being named at the request of her family are straight-A students at Bethnal Green Academy.
British police have been using social media sites to try and contact the teenage girls on their cell phones, but so far all attempts have failed. The girls are believed to be headed to the part of Syria that is being controlled by the ISIS terrorist group. The police are also stating that the girls are close friends with another 15-year-old girl that fled to Syria in December.
In an interview with Sky News, Metropolitan Police Commander Richard Walton stated his concern by saying,
“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.”
The number of Westerners who have traveled to Iraq and Syria is believed to be around 3,000, including as many as 550 women, according to the London based Institute for Strategic Dialogue.
Former Metropolitan Police border control officer Chris Hobbs says that security checks for people departing from U.K. airports make it a “walk in the park for jihadis and girls like this” to leave. According to FOX News, officer Hobbs was also quoted as saying,
“At the moment you go through security, you get on the plane, you might be checked by a private security guard. If you’re on a watch list then you will ping the system. If you’re not on the radar then the odds are you will get on the plane without too many problems.”
The parents of 15 year-old Shamima Begum are just begging for their daughter and the other teenagers to come home. They told several media outlets on Saturday that they were not mad at their daughter, they just wanted her to come home where it was safe. Her family stated in their interview,
“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.”
In a similar incident last year, the Inquisitr reported that three teenage girls from Denver Colorado, ages 15, 16, and 17, also tried leaving home to travel to Syria and join up with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Syrian terrorist group ISIS. The three girls were detained in Germany however, and quickly returned to their families.