Parents warned after girl (15) tries to join jihadists

Dutch girl detained by German police while on her way to Syria

Isis members wave flags as they drive around Raqqa in Syria. Between 1,100 and 1,700 European jihadists are known to have gone to Syria since 2011, and the Worldwide Relief Foundation says young women are increasingly being targeted. Photograph: Reuters

Isis members wave flags as they drive around Raqqa in Syria. Between 1,100 and 1,700 European jihadists are known to have gone to Syria since 2011, and the Worldwide Relief Foundation says young women are increasingly being targeted. Photograph: Reuters

Fri, Jul 4, 2014, 01:03

Parents of Muslim teenagers who want to travel to Syria to join rebels fighting against President Bashar al-Assad have been warned they may have to confiscate their children’s smartphones to prevent them contacting other would-be jihadists through social media.

The warning to parents across Europe came from the Worldwide Relief Foundation, based in the Netherlands, after a 15-year-old Dutch girl was detained by police at Dusseldorf airport in Germany, en route to Turkey and then Syria with a group of four other “sisters”, all under 18. The girl, whose first name is Moezdalifa, from Hilversum, southeast of Amsterdam, was reported missing by her family a fortnight ago – after they found a note saying she was travelling to Syria and didn’t want them to worry.

She was stopped by German police before boarding a flight after a tip-off from the Dutch security service, AIVD, and is being questioned about her plans.

Not a cell member

“She is not in a cell and she is not a suspect”, said Thomas Aling, a spokesman for the Dutch police. “She is being treated as a witness, and has been put in touch with a lawyer through the Child Protection Council.”

Moezdalifa’s parents say her siblings attempted to find her by putting a message on social media asking her to get in touch with them – once they had established that that was how she had made and maintained contact with other young would-be fighters, some already in Syria.

Between 1,100 and 1,700 European jihadists are known to have gone to Syria since 2011, and the Worldwide Relief Foundation says while the vast majority have been young men, young women are increasingly being targeted. “Attempts to brainwash young girls are becoming more and more common,” said the foundation’s director, Abou Dhar.

He warned parents to adopt a “code red” attitude especially during the summer when teenagers were not at school and could slip away more easily. It was often the quietest and best-behaved who became radicalised, he said.

“Never allow them to have control of their own passports,” he advised. “And if you are concerned, you may even have to remove their smartphones or computers to prevent them making travel arrangements.”