The families of the three British schoolgirls who joined the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria last month have demanded an apology from the Police because the force had failed to tell them their children were extremists. The call came from family members when they appeared at the Home Affairs Select Committee to give evidence over the girls disappearance.
Shamima Begum, Amira Abase, both 15, and Kadiza Sultana, 16 from Tower Hamlets in East London travelled to Syria last month. Begum’s sister said her family was “never given the opportunity” to question her because they had never received a letter about another girl who left for ISIS in December. She also claimed her sister was interested in “normal teenage things” like the TV show Keeping Up With The Kardashians.
It has emerged that the first girl to join ISIS was part of the three girls’ “friendship circle” at Bethnal Green Academy. At the time she left the seven girls who were known to be close to her were questioned by the police, this included the three that left.
All seven were given letters about the incident from the Metropolitan Police to give to their parents. However, the three did not pass the letters on and as a result the parents claimed not to know about the radicalisation of their children.
Kadiza Sultana’s first cousin Aziz Fadima claimed the family “would have been very effective in stepping in and querying” her interest in joining ISIS had the Police warned them. The families also claimed to be unaware of how the girls had paid for their tickets, although the Police have now confirmed a travel agents was paid with a “large amount of cash”. The Police claim this was funded by “theft of jewellery from a family member”.
Earlier today David Cameron told LBC that parents needed to take a more significant role in stopping young people joining ISIS. He said: “When you have got educated British schoolgirls at an outstanding school in Greenwich finding it somehow attractive to get on a plane to travel to Syria to go and live in a country where gay people are being thrown off buildings and British citizens are being beheaded, and appalling brutality is being meted out, we have a problem.”
He added: “Let’s not pretend this is simply a problem that can be dealt with by policing.” He also said it was important that institutions are not made the scapegoat in these situations.