‘Tougher airport checks’ call after IS girls flee

A CCTV picture showing the girls at Gatwick Airport. Picture: SWNS

A CCTV picture showing the girls at Gatwick Airport. Picture: SWNS

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MORE stringent airport checks should be carried out in an effort to stop teenagers from travelling to Syria, the Muslim Council of Scotland has stated.

The plea comes after it was revealed that three London schoolgirls, Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and an un-named 15-year-old, have fled to join Islamic State (IS) following Twitter contact with Aqsa Mahmood, 20, from Glasgow, who travelled to become a “Jihadi bride” in 2013.

Scotland Yard is trying to trace the runaway trio, who flew to Istanbul from Gatwick Airport on Tuesday despite having no parent or guardian present.

Their families are “devastated” by their disappearance, acc­ording to Commander Rich­ard Walton, head of the Metropolitan Police’s counter terror command.

He said there was a “good chance” the girls were still in Turkey and hoped that a police appeal would persuade them not to enter Syria.

It has since emerged that one of the girls, Shamima
Begum has been in contact with Aqsa Mahmood. The 15-year old tweeted Mahmood’s account of Umm Layth on 15 February to ask “follow me so i can dm you back”.

Manzher Khan, of the Muslim Council of Scotland, said: “It is very worrying and concerning that girls of such a young age are both thinking about travelling and being allowed to travel.

“When travelling through an airport you would hope that they would be assessed about their age, where they are travelling to and why.”

He added: “In Scotland there is no radicalisation within the mosques, online is the avenue through which young people are being radicalised. In our communities we must do more to counteract these online messages.”

The three girls left their homes before 8am on Tuesday, having provided their families with “plausible” reasons as to why they would be out for the day.

Turkish Airlines did not not­ify police that the girls were on board the flight.

Commander Walton said: “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.”

Meanwhile, Prime Minister David Cameron has described the girls’ disappearance as “deeply concerning” and said “we all have a role to play in stopping people from having their minds poisoned by this appalling death cult”.

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