Police are appealing for help to find three schoolgirls who have gone missing and are thought to have traveled to Turkey with the intention of crossing the border into Syria.
They are Shamima Begum, 15, who could be using the name Acklina Begum, and 16-year-old Kadiza Sultana. The third girl, 15, is not being named at the request of her family, Scotland Yard said.
Police fear the girls, all pupils at the Bethnal Green Academy, in east London, might be heading to join terror group Isil – Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also known as Islamic State.
They traveled from their homes on Tuesday, February 17 and boarded a Turkish Airlines flight to Istanbul.
Commander Richard Walton, of Scotland Yard’s counter terrorism unit, described the girls as “straight A students” and “normal girls”.
He added: “If we are able to locate these girls while they are in Turkey, there is a possibility we can bring them home to their families.”
Police said the girls were all close friends with a 15-year-old who traveled to Syria in December.
The girls left their homes before 8am, giving their families plausible reasons as to why they would be out for the day, police said.
Instead they met and traveled to Gatwick airport. They boarded a Turkish Airlines flight, TK1966, which left for Istanbul, in Turkey, at 12.40pm.
Mr Walton said: “We are extremely concerned for the safety of these young girls and would urge anyone with information to come forward and speak to police.
“Our priority is the safe return of these girls to their families.
“We are reaching out to the girls using the Turkish media and social media in the hopes that Shamima, Kadiza and their friend hear our messages, hear our concerns for their safety and have the courage to return now, back to their families who are so worried about them.”
He added: “We are concerned about the numbers of girls and young women who have or are intending to travel to the part of Syria that is controlled by the terrorist group calling themselves Islamic State.
“It is an extremely dangerous place and we have seen reports of what life is like for them and how restricted their lives become. It is not uncommon for girls or women to be prevented from being allowed out of their houses or if allowed out, only when accompanied by a guardian.
“The choice of returning home from Syria is often taken away from those under the control of Islamic State, leaving their families in the UK devastated and with very few options to secure their safe return.
“If we are able to locate these girls whilst they are still in Turkey, we have a good possibility of being able to bring them home to their families.”
Police said Shamina is 5ft 7in tall, and wearing black thick rimmed glasses, a black hijab, light brown and black leopard print scarf, dark red jumper, black trousers and jacket, carrying a dark blue cylindrical shape holdall with white straps.
Kadiza is 5ft 6in tall, of slim build and wearing black-rimmed glasses, a long black jacket with a hood, grey striped scarf, grey jumper, dark red trousers, carrying a black holdall.
Both are British nationals, speak English with London accents and also speak Bengali.
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SOURCE: The Telegraph