The mother of a missing schoolgirl feared to be heading to Syria after becoming radicalised online has made an emotional plea for her to “please, please come back”.
Yusra Hussien, 15, has made no contact with her family since leaving her home in Easton, Bristol, for school last Wednesday.
She is thought to have met up with a 17-year-old girl from London and boarded a plane to Turkey, hoping to cross the border into war-torn Syria. It is unclear how the teenagers – both from Somali families – first met but they both vanished from home last week.
Yusra’s mother, Safiya, wept as she begged her to return.
“Yusra, I am your mum, I love you,” Mrs Hussien, supported by Yusra’s aunts Sucdi Ali and Ikram Mohamed, said. “Please, please, please, we miss you, come back.
“I love you so much. All your brothers and your sister miss you so, so much. The house is not the same when you left.
“Please, please – look at me.”
Family friends had said they believed A*-student Yusra, who wears a hijab, had become radicalised on chat rooms and forums online.
However, in a statement her mother and father Mohammed described her only as a “typical teenager”.
“Our family is very heartbroken,” they said. “The pain that we as parents feel, at not knowing her safety, is very distressing.
“There have been many assumptions and speculations claiming Yusra is travelling to Syria, that she maybe an extremist, or that she is planning to become a jihadist bride all of which have not as of yet been proved with any concrete evidence.”
Mrs Hussien added: “Please dear Yusra, I love and I miss you, my heart is torn, and I want you home as soon as possible.”
Her husband added: “Yusra, I’m not angry, I just want you to be safe. Please come back.”
David Hanson, shadow immigration minister, said: “There are questions to be asked about whether the Border Force should have intervened on seeing a single minor travel unaccompanied and whether more checks should be undertaken.”
Yusra’s aunt, Sucdi Ali also questioned how she was able to board a plane unchallenged.
“That is something that our government, our security needs to work on – a child travelling on a school day,” Miss Ali said.
Miss Ali said the family’s last conversation with Yusra was on Tuesday night but there was “nothing” that indicated she was planning to leave.
Yusra left for City Academy, Bristol, as usual on the morning of her disappearance but was not there when her father went to collect her that afternoon.
Officers are investigating whether she and the 17-year-old travelled together from Heathrow Airport to Istanbul, Turkey, on their way to Syria.
Their disappearance follows that of twins Zahra and Salma Halane, 16, from Manchester, who are thought to have travelled to Syria in July.
British authorities have removed the passports of 25 Britons attempting to reach Syria, while 103 have been arrested in relation to terrorism there. Of those, 24 have been charged and five convicted.