LONDON — One of the three teenage girls who are believed to be trying to travel into Syria to join the Islamic State flew to Turkey using her older sister’s passport, the BBC reported Monday.
Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and Amira Abase, 15, left London Feb. 17 on a flight to Istanbul and have been missing ever since. Police say British counterterrorism officers are working with Turkish authorities to trace them.
Shamima used her 17-year-old sister Aklima’s passport to leave Britain, the BBC reported. Scotland Yard previously said she had possibly traveled under Aklima’s name.
Meanwhile, Mark Keary the principal of Bethnal Green Academy in east London — the school attended by the girls — said there is no evidence that they were radicalized there. He said pupils cannot access Twitter or Facebook on the school’s computers, the BBC reported, and added: “Police have advised us there is no evidence radicalization took place at the academy.”
On Sunday, the families of the girls appealed to them to come home.
Amira’s father Abase Hussen said she told him she was going to a wedding on the morning she went missing. “She said ‘daddy, I’m in a hurry’, there was no sign to suspect her at all,” he said.
He said the family had asked Amira about a fellow pupil at Bethnal Green Academy who fled to Syria in December and she said: “I’m sad for that little girl.”
“We are depressed, and it’s very stressful,” Hussen said. “The message we have for Amira is to get back home. We miss you. We cannot stop crying. Please think twice. Don’t go to Syria.”
Renu Begum, 27, Shamima’s sister, said: “Mum needs you more than anything in the world. You’re our baby. We just want you home. We want you safe. … If anyone is telling her they’re going to love her more than us, they’re wrong.”
Kadiza’s sister Halima Khanom added: “We want you know that we all miss you and we love you. Everyone is hurting because we don’t know if you are safe, especially mum. Find the courage in your heart to contact us and let us know you are okay, that is all we ask.”
Shamima sent a tweet on Feb. 15 — two days before the girls left — to Aqsa Mahmood, a Scottish woman who traveled to Syria in 2013 at age 20 to marry an Islamic State fighter after becoming radicalized, Sky News reported. Mahmood uses a Twitter account to encourage British women to join her in Syria, according to the BBC.
Shamima’s message said: “Follow me so I can dm (direct message) you back.”
Mahmood’s family have spoken of their “horror and anger” that she may have played a role in recruiting the girls.