Tuesday 20 March 2018

Tearful families of missing Isil girls beg them to return

British teenage girls Shamima Begun, Amira Abase and Kadiza Sultana (L-R) walk through security at Gatwick airport before they boarded a flight to Turkey (REUTERS)
British teenage girls Shamima Begun, Amira Abase and Kadiza Sultana (L-R) walk through security at Gatwick airport before they boarded a flight to Turkey (REUTERS)
Handout still taken from CCTV issued by the Metropolitan Police of (left to right) 15-year-old Amira Abase, Kadiza Sultana,16 and Shamima Begum,15 at Gatwick airport, before they caught their flight to Turkey on Tuesday (Metropolitan Police/PA Wire)

David Mercer

Relatives of three missing English schoolgirls who are believed to have fled to Syria to join Isil wept as they issued heartfelt pleas for the youngsters to come home.

Police are urgently trying to trace Shamima Begum (15), Kadiza Sultana (16) and 15-year-old Amira Abase, who flew from Gatwick Airport to Istanbul in Turkey on Tuesday.

The girls, described as “straight A students” at Bethnal Green Academy school in east London, did not show any signs they were planning to travel to war-torn Syria, their families said as they gave emotional interviews at Scotland Yard’s headquarters.

Renu Begum (27) said she hopes her “baby” sister Shamima had travelled with the intention of bringing back another fellow pupil who went to Syria in December.

Amid fears the girls may have been recruited by jihadists online, Ms Begum said any attempt to prey on the “vulnerable” young girls was “cruel” and “evil”.

“To convince young children, young girls who are highly intelligent... at that age, who are vulnerable, it’s just wrong,” she said. “It’s a really evil thing to do. You’re breaking up entire families.”

“They’re preying on young innocent girls and it’s not right.”

Holding her missing sister’s pyjamas, Ms Begum broke down in tears as she urged her to return home.

“Please come home,” she said. “Mum needs you more than anything in the world. You’re our baby. We just want you home. We want you safe.”

Ms Begum said their mother last saw Shamima get on a bus on Tuesday morning after she claimed she had extra classes at school, and there was “nothing unusual about her behaviour”.

“She’s a sensible girl,” she said. “We’re hoping she wouldn’t do anything that would put her in any danger.” It’s left a big hole in the house.

“Her family love her more than anybody else in this world can. If anyone is telling her they’re going to love her more than us, they’re wrong.

“She’s a clever girl but she’s only young and young minds can easily be swayed.”

Shamima’s relatives, including her two older sisters, joined Amira’s father to appeal to the girls to come home.

Abase Hussen (47) said his family had “not stopped crying” since the disappearance of his daughter Amira, who claimed she was going to a wedding on the day she went missing.

“She said, ‘Daddy, I’m in a hurry’,” he said. “There was no sign to suspect her at all.”

Mr Hussen clutched a teddy dressed in a Chelsea shirt with the words “number one mum” on its foot which Amira gave to her mother on Mother’s Day.

He said his daughter sent a text on the morning of the day she went missing which said “dad the place is a little bit far. I pray my midday prayer and I get back”.

“She didn’t come home,” he added.

“We are depressed, and it’s very stressful. The message we have for Amira is to get back home. We miss you. We cannot stop crying. Please think twice. Don’t go to Syria.

“What she’s doing is completely nonsense. Remember how we love you.” Your sister and brother cannot stop crying.”

Mr Hussen said his daughter had never spoken about an interest in jihad with him but “maybe with friends”.

He added: “She doesn’t dare discuss something like this with us. She knows what the answer would be.”

Mr Hussen said his wife had a “broken heart”.

“If anyone doesn’t have hope, life would be miserable,” he said. “We don’t despair. We struggle. It’s stressful. We hope, of course.”

Reading a message to Kadiza, her older sister Halima Khanom said: “We want you to know that we all miss you and we love you.

“Everyone is hurting because we don’t know if you are safe, especially mum.”

“Find the courage in your heart to contact us and let us know how you are and if you are okay. That is all we ask.”

Irish Independent

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