Schoolgirls Feared To Have Travelled To Syria

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    Police are worried the east London girls intend to travel to the part of the country controlled by Islamic State.

    Police are trying to trace three schoolgirls feared to have run away from east London with plans to travel to Syria.

    The girls were last seen on Tuesday morning as they left their homes telling their families they would be out for the day.

    Instead they met and travelled to Gatwick airport and boarded a Turkish Airlines flight which landed at Istanbul that evening.

    The three – Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and a third female aged 15 who is not being named at the request of her family – are close friends at Bethnal Green Academy in east London.

    Metropolitan Police Commander Richard Walton said he was “extremely concerned” for their safety.

    He revealed the runaways are good friends with another 15-year-old girl who fled to Syria in December.

    “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,” Mr Walton said.

    “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.”

    Mr Walton added the teenagers’ families were “devastated” but there was a “good chance” the girls were still in Turkey.

    All three have mobile phones, and police are using Turkish media and social media to try and make contact with them.

    Salman Farsi, spokesman for the local East London Mosque, said: “They have been misled. I do not know what was promised to them. It is just sad. We have not had anything like this before in our community.

    “I think the girls need to know they have done nothing wrong. They have been manipulated.”

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