Two British schoolgirls who ran away to join jihadis in Syria were model students who scored top marks in their school leaving exams.
The Mail reports that Zahra and Salma Halane, both aged 16, were among the best students at their school in Manchester, but they fled abroad two weeks ago to become ‘jihadi brides’. They have since phoned their parents to say they are in Syria and told them they are “not coming back”.
They are thought to have followed their brother, who is also believed have travelled to Syria last year to fight with extremist group ISIS.
In their GCSEs – British school leaving exams -the two girls were in the top 10 percent of their year group. Salma achieved 13 qualifications, 11 of which had top marks, while Zahra managed to achieve 15, 12 of which received also had top grades.
Without telling their parents, the girls boarded a flight to Turkey before crossing the border to Syria.
Officers are now investigating how they managed to fund their trip, fearing that they may have been bankrolled by jihadis who wanted them as their wives.
The girls’ parents have said they are “absolutely devastated”. Their mother told the Mail: “I’m just so shocked,” before breaking down in tears.
Mohammed Shafiq of the Ramadhan Foundation said: “The family is shocked and absolutely devastated, especially their mother.
“Their son went to fight for ISIS about a year ago and has been over there since then. They believe he was radicalised over the internet.
“The family were desperately unhappy to discover he had gone to Syria and they thought they were keeping a watchful eye on their other children… and then this happens.
“Their parents and brothers and sisters are desperately concerned for their safety and know they are in danger. It is extremely distressing for them.
“There has been an abject failure of intelligence agencies. How can two 16-year-old girls travel unaccompanied from Manchester Airport and arrive in Istanbul without any questions being asked?”
Omar Barud, chairman of the mosque where the girls’ father prays, added: “We don’t support any form of extremism here and we have a very good relationship with the police,” he said.
“I wouldn’t want my daughter to travel to somewhere like Syria – at their age they should still be with their family, finishing their studies.”