Three UK schoolgirls suspected of trying to join Islamic State

The girls left Gatwick airport for Istanbul on Tuesday without notifying their families

Still taken from CCTV  of (from left to right) an unnamed 15-year-old, Kadiza Sultana (16) and Shamima Begum (15) at Gatwick airport. The three girls are suspected of attempting to travel to Syria to join Islamic State. Photograph: Metropolitan Police/PA Wire

Still taken from CCTV of (from left to right) an unnamed 15-year-old, Kadiza Sultana (16) and Shamima Begum (15) at Gatwick airport. The three girls are suspected of attempting to travel to Syria to join Islamic State. Photograph: Metropolitan Police/PA Wire

 

Three schoolgirls have fled the UK in a suspected bid to travel to Syria and join Islamic State (Isis).

Shamima Begum (15), Kadiza Sultana (16), and an unnamed 15-year-old, all from east London, flew to Istanbul in Turkey from Gatwick airport on Tuesday, without leaving any messages behind for family or friends.

Scotland Yard detectives urgently appealed for information about the missing girls, who all go to Bethnal Green Academy and were described as “straight-A students”.

Commander Richard Walton, head of the Metropolitan Police’s counter-terror command, said the girls are good friends with another 15-year-old girl who fled to Syria in December.

He said the force was becoming “increasingly concerned” about a growing trend of young girls showing an interest in joining Isis, an organisation notorious for its oppression of women.

Families are ‘devastated’

Mr Walton added the teenagers’ families were “devastated” but there was a “good chance” the girls were still in Turkey.

Shamima is described as approximately 5ft 7in tall, and wearing black thick-rimmed glasses, a black hijab, a light brown and black leopard print scarf, a dark red jumper, black trousers and jacket, and carrying a dark blue cylindrical shape holdall with white straps.

She is a British national of Bangladeshi heritage and has a London accent. She also speaks Bengali.

Kadiza is described as 5ft 6in tall, of slim build and wearing black rimmed glasses, a long black jacket with a hood, a grey striped scarf, grey jumper, dark red trousers, and carrying a black holdall.

She is also a British national of Bangladeshi heritage and has a London accent. She also speaks Bengali.

The third missing girl, who is not being named, is described as 5ft 6in tall, of slim build and wearing black thick-rimmed glasses, a black head scarf, a long dark green jacket with fur lined hood, a light yellow long sleeved top, black trousers and carrying a black Nike holdall.

The three girls left their homes before 8am on Tuesday, providing their families with “plausible” reasons as to why they would be out for the day.

They boarded Turkish Airlines flight TK1966, which departed at 12.40 to Istanbul, Turkey and landed at 18.40 local time.

Shamima and the third girl were reported missing to police by their families later that evening when they did not return home. Kadiza was reported missing by her family on Wednesday morning.

PA