Girls who fled to Syria ‘stole to fund travel’

Three schoolgirls who fled to Syria to join Islamic State (IS) are believed to have funded their travel by stealing jewellery from relatives, MPs have been told.

Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and 15-year-old Amira Abase flew from Gatwick to Istanbul on February 17 and are feared to have continued to Syria to become so-called “jihadi brides” with IS militants.

The three girls paid more than £1,000 (€1,400) in cash to a travel agent for their flights to Turkey, the Home Affairs Select Committee heard.

Asked how they raised the funds, Met Police assistant commissioner Mark Rowley, the national police lead for counter-terrorism, told the committee: “We think it’s linked to theft from families.

“We think it’s linked to taking jewellery from one of their family members.”

Earlier, Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe apologised for failing to communicate more directly with the families of the three girls — but insisted there was nothing more the force could have done to stop them from leaving.

It has since emerged the three girls were among seven schoolgirls who were handed letters by the police about another 15-year-old who ran away to Syria in December.

Earlier at the committee, relatives of the girls demanded an apology from the Metropolitan Police for failing to hand the crucial letter directly to their parents.


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