The three missing schoolgirls that are believed to be heading to join militant Islamic State are believed to have now crossed into Syria, according to the Metropolitan Police (Met).
The teenagers from London were recently smuggled into Syria from Turkey, according to reports. All Bethnal Green Academy students, Shamima Begum and Amira Abase, both 15, and Kadiza Sultana, 16, took a flight to Istanbul on 17 February, from where it is believed they made the journey into Syria via the Kilis border crossing.
Having told their parents that they were going out for the day, the girls flew from Gatwick to Turkey. In a statement released today, the Met said it had reason to believe the girls are no longer in Turkey and have now crossed into Syria.
Sources inside war-torn Syria said that three girls who were identified as British crossed the border via people smugglers. The girls’ families have made a number of emotional appeals for them to return, but the fear of them entering Syria would potentially certify that they will be out of reach of both British and Turkish authorities.
Earlier, Scotland Yard refuted claims that it had taken three days to inform Turkish officials about the schoolgirls travelling to Syria. Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said officials would have taken “necessary measures” had they known earlier.
The news of the missing girls comes after a number of British girls have made the trip to Syria to join the barbaric Islamic State. The question on everyone’s lips is why would, as a source close to one of the girls says, these “Academically bright but naive and vulnerable” girls do this?
Comments on social media are riddled with ‘let them rot there’ and ‘they will get what they deserve’ outbursts, but some critics argue that the girls are not ‘jihadi devil-women’; that they are brainwashed by Isis’ ideology and “Hollywood-ised war” that has made barbarity so blockbuster, that it looks cartoonishly unreal to a young, malleable mind. Plenty of teenagers love violence – this isn’t new. The shock seems to be that girls, as well as boys, appear to have an appetite for it”, writer Nosheen Iqbal said.
“Grade-A students aren’t exempt from grooming. If you make that your starting point in trying to understand why three teenage girls, yet to even sit their GCSEs, would run away from home to join the world’s most powerful cult, you are already one step ahead of the bile”, she added.
Iqbal does further say that the lure of Isis to young groomed and naive women, does not absolve these teenagers from responsibility. The girls seem “self-aware enough to think that they’re independent” and are acting of their free will, she expands.
There are calls for the British police and Turkish officials to help the girls; “not to turn our backs on them”, a tweet read. The contrasting comments both in the media and on social media have sparked a debate on how best to protect young girls and boys from being victims of Isis’ efforts to recruit members for its murderous and extremist cult.
Iqbal explains that the girls are still young to know what they are doing citing that “At their age, extremism and nihilism can easily take root, because real life hasn’t really happened to them yet. Isis knows this; that’s why it’s targeting teenagers so ruthlessly. The argument that we reject these girls and refuse them help is as dumb as the mistake they’ve clearly made”.
The news follows that of two Manchester schoolgirls, both 16, who followed their brother to Syria to join Isis. Salma and Zahra left the UK last year and reportedly married Isis fighters. Their father is said to have flown out to the country to look for them to bring them back home.
TNT News Yasin Chinembiri