The 16-year-old sisters could be exploited in the war-torn country, says Greater Manchester’s top cop.
Women in Syria walk past an ISIS poster that urges females to wear a hijab
The Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police says the twin sisters who travelled to Syria are at risk of “sexual exploitation”.
Zahra and Salma Halane, both 16, were reported missing from their home in Chorlton, Manchester, on June 26.
They are believed to have flown to an airport in Turkey, and then made their way to the Syrian border.
Speaking at the opening of a new volunteering facility for the charity Syria Relief, Sir Peter Fahy told Sky News about the potential dangers for “jihadi brides”.
He said: “They hear these radical messages, this bizarre phrase of a ‘jihadi bride’, but we say no; that’s just sexual exploitation, that’s just rape.
“So they are at a great personal risk of being abused or being misused, being involved in the fighting, or being kidnapped.
“The people we’re talking about will have a small regard for human life so it’s an incredibly dangerous situation for anyone to be going out there. It is chaotic and it is violent.”
The Chief Constable also confirmed that there were no concerns raised about the sisters prior to their departure and police were “not very close at all” to bringing them home.
The sisters are believed to have travelled to Syria to join their older brother, a suspected fighter with the militant group ISIS.
Greater Manchester Police confirmed they did not have any intelligence about him other than he is believed “to be involved in terrorist activity” somewhere in the Middle East.
Sir Peter said it was clear that he “seems to have acted as some sort of role model for the two girls” and appealed directly to the twin sisters.
He said: “We would say to the two girls that they are at great risk, huge risk, they are ruining their lives, they’re ruining their futures.
“Just think about the way that you are going to be misused and it is a very perverted form of the Islamic faith so there are a number of different ways which we are trying to get through to the girls, working with their families but also, just as importantly, trying to dissuade anyone else from going out there.”
Sir Peter also appealed to parents to try to identify if their children are at risk of being radicalised.
He added: “In some ways, it’s no different from other parents being worried about young people getting involved in gang activity or in drug dealing, so this is just one part of a huge amount of effort that we putting in across all the police forces… the counter terror agencies, to try and identify young people who are at risk.”
The Chief Constable officially launched a new volunteering centre in Openshaw for the charity Syria Relief, appealing to people to donate clothes and food.
He urged people to stay in the UK and said the centre will hopefully provide “a practical focus” and an alternative for anyone who wants to help with humanitarian crisis in Syria.