Jihadi girls ‘stole’ to pay for Syria trip

Relatives of the three missing schoolgirls appeared at the home affairs select committee. Picture: PARelatives of the three missing schoolgirls appeared at the home affairs select committee. Picture: PA
Relatives of the three missing schoolgirls appeared at the home affairs select committee. Picture: PA
Three schoolgirls who fled to Syria to join Islamic State (IS) are believed to have funded their travel by stealing jewellery from relatives, MPs were told yesterday.

Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and Amira Abase, 15, flew from Gatwick to Istanbul on 17 February and are thought to have continued on to Syria to become so-called “jihadi brides” of IS militants.

The three girls paid more than £1,000 in cash to a travel agent for their flights to Turkey, the House of Commons home affairs select committee heard.

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Asked how they raised the funds, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, the national police lead for counter-terrorism, told the committee: “We think it’s linked to theft from families. We think it’s linked to taking jewellery from one of their family members.”

Earlier, Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe apologised for failing to communicate more directly with the families of the three girls – but insisted there was nothing more the force could have done to stop them from leaving.

It has since emerged that the three teenagers were among seven schoolgirls who were handed letters by the police about another 15-year-old who ran away to Syria in December.

At the committee hearing, relatives of the girls demanded an apology from the Metropolitan Police for failing to hand the crucial letter directly to their parents.

Appearing before the same MPs, Sir Bernard said: “First of all we’re sorry if the family feel like that, clearly it’s a terrible situation they find themselves in, having lost their daughters in such a horrible way. You can only half imagine what a parent is going through at this time.

“Also sorry the letter we intended to get through, didn’t get through. It’s clear that failed. It was intended for them and failed and for that of course we’re sorry.

“I don’t think we would go as far as saying therefore that caused the girls to go.

“There was nothing more we could have done to prevent that. Because at the beginning we were trying to get from these girls information about a further young woman who had actually left in December, that was our principle reason for talking to that family. In hindsight, we now know that these girls were planning to go and neither the family, the police, the school nor anyone else realised that.

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“That’s the sequence of events, the circumstances the parents find themselves in is a terrible situation and they must be worried sick, about how those girls are.”

Earlier, Amira’s father Hussen Abase, Khadija’s cousin Fahmida Aziz and Shamima’s sister Sahima Begum said there were no indications the girls had been radicalised. Miss Begum said: “My sister was into normal teenage things. She used to watch Keeping Up With The Kardashians.”

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