British Syria-bound teens’ families alerted police

MP Keith Vaz praised the actions of the families. Picture: AFP/Getty
MP Keith Vaz praised the actions of the families. Picture: AFP/Getty
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THREE British teenagers arrested in Turkey heading to Syria were stopped after their families raised the alarm with the police.

Officers were tipped off that two 17-year-old males had gone missing and inquiries revealed they had travelled with a third person, a 19-year-old man.

She hasn’t been in touch with the missing girls at all

Muzaffar Mahmood

All three were arrested on their return to London on suspicion of preparing terrorist acts and have been bailed pending further inquiries.

They are reported to have travelled to Spain before taking a flight to Turkey – a route taken by Hayat Boumedienne, the widow of one of the terrorists who carried out the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris in January.

MP Keith Vaz, who chairs the Commons home affairs select committee, met the families involved and praised their action.

“The families of two of the young men that I met are honourable, decent, hard-working British citizens who knew absolutely nothing about their sons’ decisions. They acted swiftly, with the support of the leader of the [local] council, to alert the police.

“The police need to be commended for the speed with which they dealt with this case. I have spoken to the Turkish ambassador to congratulate him on the action taken by the Turkish authorities. This is a rare good news story in the fight against terrorism and is a lesson to us all that we need to be vigilant against those who seek to groom our young men and women in this way.”

Brent Council confirmed all three teenagers – who have been bailed until a date in early May – came from the north-west London borough. Council leader Muhammed Butt said the families’ action was “vital” in getting the trio home safely.

It comes just weeks after an international manhunt was launched to find three London schoolgirls who travelled to Istanbul on their journey to Syria.

However, Shamima Begum, 15, Amira Abase, also 15, and Kadiza Sultana, 16, who are pupils at Bethnal Green Academy, are now feared to have reached the conflict zone to become so-called “jihadi brides” with ­Islamic State.

The family of Aqsa Mahmood, 20, from Glasgow, who travelled to Syria to marry an IS fighter, said yesterday they did not believe she had a hand in recruiting the three schoolgirls.

At least one of the girls was reportedly in contact on Twitter with Mahmood, 20, who left her home in November 2013.

Ms Mahmood’s father Muzaffar said he had been in contact with his daughter, who denied involvement: “She was very angry with me – ‘Why are you not standing up for me? I wasn’t in contact. I don’t even know their names’. That’s what she told us.

“We regret what she is doing and we condemn what’s going on over there, but she hasn’t been in touch with them [the missing girls] at all.”


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