CNN reports that nearly two weeks after three U.K. teens were reported missing from their London homes, video footage has surfaced showing the girls at a bus station in Istanbul.
Authorities believe that the teens are no longer in Turkey, but have successfully crossed the border into Syria.
The three classmates, Shamima Begum, 15; Kadiza Sultana, 16; and Amira Abase, 15, bordered a plane bound for Istanbul on February 17 from London’s Gatwick Airport. Multiple pleas echoing on social media and Turkish media sites from the girls parents to British counter-terrorism officers have proven to be unsuccessful.
Authorities fear that at the heart of the girls departure lies ties to a woman by the name Aqsa Mahmood, an alleged recruiter for ISIS. Sources say at least one of the girls reportedly contacted Aqsa Mahmood via social media.
An attorney representing the Mahmood family stated that the family was “shocked” and “horrified” that the contact did not prompt an investigation by police, saying that it was understood Aqsa’s social media activities were being closely monitored.
The Mahmood family has condemned their daughter’s actions, calling them a perverted and distorted version of Islam. The family also has vocalized extreme concern that U.K. security services did nothing to intervene after one or more of the missing girls contacted Aqsa.
Turkey has become the most popular route for people wishing to join one of ISIS many factions after the anti-government movement uprising over 3 years ago. Originally there was a rather “open door” policy set forth by Ankara which allow refugees fleeing from Syria to find a safe haven in Turkey.
It was not uncommon for Turkish border guards to look the other way as activists, journalists, and others crossed the border into Syria. However, the things changed when the ultra-violent Islamist group known as ISIS began to surface in Syria. The Turkish government came under fire both at home and abroad for not taking a hard line approach to jihadists coming through Turkey to Syria.
Now it’s Turkey’s turn to fire back at it’s critics. Time has reported that the girls disappearance has sparked tension between Turkey and the British government, with the Turkish Prime minister calling the failure to stop the girls from traveling to Turkey “shameful and condemnable.”
Recruiters for religious extremist groups look for individuals who are angry, disaffected, and looking for a place to belong. As reported by the Inquisitr, groups like ISIS employ professional psychologists to hand pick those who will be able to represent the group to the world. What characteristics the group saw in the three missing U.K. teens remains to be seen.
[Image courtesy of WeshTV]