Your fault. The police’s fault. Social media’s fault. Religion’s fault. Nobody’s fault. Take your pick. Seems there’s no shortage of blame to go around – or not – in the case of the three British schoolgirls believed to have fled the country to join ISIS fighters in the Middle East.
It all depends on who is talking.
This is what we do know. Police believe that Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and Amira Abase, 15, are already in Syria after they flew from Gatwick to Istanbul in Turkey last Tuesday.
They had attended an East London school, Bethnal Green Academy, the same institution another pupil disappeared from in December and is now thought to have joined ISIS.
The head teacher of the school has since said police found no indication the missing students were radicalised there.
Mark Keary said that the school community was “shocked and saddened” by the departure of the trio. He said police spoke to the girls after the first student disappeared and indicated at the time that there was no evidence that they were at risk of being radicalised or absconding.
He also made the point that access social media at the school is “strictly regulated.”
So no blame there.
The girls’ parents are sure they are blameless and nothing happened at home that might have caused the girls to leave.
According to the Associated Press, the relatives of the missing girls broke down in tears as they spoke of their shock and fear in televised interviews.
“We miss you. We cannot stop crying,” said Abase Hussen, Amira’s father, holding a stuffed toy bear Amira gave to her mother on Mother’s Day. “Please think twice. Don’t go to Syria.”
All the families agreed there were no signs that the girls were interested in extremism or of what they were planning.
So no blame there, either.
Former minister and Conservative peer Baroness Warsi agrees. She thinks that school and family should be ruled out. Instead, she told Sky News’s Murnaghan programme on Sunday morning that the Government was fighting a “losing battle” against online radicalisation.
“Sometimes we’ve been wanting to find an easy answer and said ‘Mosques should do more, Madrassas should do more’,” she explained.
“It’s becoming increasingly apparent that actually people aren’t becoming radicalised in their places of worship but actually are being radicalised in their bedrooms by being on the internet.”
So there IS a clue after all when it comes to apportioning blame and guilt; not schools or places of worship but radical bedrooms and the internet, one being used and the other accessed under the parental roof.
But wait. There’s more.
It seems British authorities might also have to shoulder the blame. Seems they are not doing enough to alert parents when their children are at risk of being radicalised through the internet, a lawyer for the family of one young woman who joined Islamic State has said.
Aamer Anwar told Sky News security authorities are not passing on intelligence which could allow families to prevent their children from travelling to Syria or Iraq.
These failings, he said, meant the UK is “exporting terror” abroad.
He went further in the Herald newspaper in Scotland accusing the same UK authorities of “monumental incompetence” over their handling of children and young people at risk of online radicalisation.
He also questioned why the three girls were not stopped by airport security before boarding the Turkish Airlines flight at Gatwick.
“Here we have two 15-year-old girls and a 16-year-old, dressed conservatively and wearing the Hijab, travelling to Turkey alone without their parents”, he said.
“Surely this should have raised alarm bells?”
He added: “I’m calling for an inquiry into this. The families of Aqsa and these three girls have a right to know exactly what the security services knew and what lessons can be learned for the future to stop young people going off to join Isis.”
So there you have it. British authorities should be doing more. Not schools, or parents, or religious leaders.
British authorities, the same ones who seem to be forever accused of too much intrusion into innocent lives and showing an undue focus on followers of a certain faith we know, because they tell us often, have nothing to do with radical elements who kill in the name of their religion.
It’s really the fault of British authorities and we, as taxpayers, must also stand accused, because we pay their wages.
Glad we cleared that up.