Fears Grow for Three U.K. Schoolgirls Allegedly Trying to Join ISIS in Syria

CCTV at Gatwick airport captured Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16 and their unnamed 15-year-old friend before they boarded a Turkish Airlines flight to Istanbul.

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Haaretz
A screenshot from bbc.com of a police-released photo of the three U.K. schoolgirls.
A screenshot from bbc.com of a police-released photo of the three U.K. schoolgirls.
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Haaretz

The BBC reports growing fears for the safety of three east London schoolgirls who police believe are trying to cross the Turkish-Syrian border to join Islamic State (IS) extremists.

CCTV at Gatwick airport captured Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16 and their unnamed 15-year-old friend as they passed through security, before boarding a Turkish Airlines flight to Istanbul Tuesday.

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

It has emerged that two months ago one of their classmates, also 15, traveled to Syria.

Salman Farsi, spokesman for the East London Mosque where the girls’ families pray, said the trio, who have been described as "straight-A students", had been manipulated.

"They have been misled,” he told the BBC. “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 do not know what was told to them but if they do go to Syria, it is a war zone and there are serious ramifications for going in to a war zone."

British Prime Minister David Cameron called their disappearance "deeply concerning," and stressed that authorities would do "everything we can to help these girls," Sky News reports.

Cameron said their case proves the fight against Islamist extremist terror is "not just one that we can wage by the police and border control. It needs every school, every university, every college, every community to recognize they have a role to play."

The Metropolitan Police told Sky News the three girls were questioned by officers in December as part of a "routine inquiry". According to The Times none of the three was subsequently monitored by counterterrorism police.

British authorities only discovered the girls had fled the country after their families raised the alarm.

Sky News uncovered a tweet sent from Shamima Begum's Twitter account two days earlier, asking a friend already in Syria to follow her so they can start messaging privately.

Some 3,000 Westerners have traveled to Iraq and Syria to join ISIS, including as many as 550 women, according to the London-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue.

It is thought more than 50 British women have traveled to Syria via Turkey to join IS to become so-called "jihadi brides."

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