Syria girls: Man arrested ‘for helping British trio’

Kadiza Sultana, Amira Abase and Shamima Begum (l-r)
Teenagers Kadiza Sultana, Amira Abase and Shamima Begum (l-r) left Britain in February

A man has been arrested for allegedly helping three British schoolgirls cross into Syria, Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said.

The man is said to work for the intelligence agency of a country which is part of the coalition against Islamic State (IS) militants.

It is believed Shamima Begum, Amira Abase, 15, and Kadiza Sultana, 16, left last month to join the extremist group.

It is not known what country the arrested man is from.

Shamima, Amira, and Kadiza, all pupils at Bethnal Green Academy, east London, left their homes on 17 February.

The three girls in Istanbul
The girls are thought to have waited at the Istanbul bus station for 18 hours

They flew to Turkey from Gatwick and are believed to have entered Syria within days, probably to join Islamic State extremists.

CCTV images have shown the teenagers waiting at a bus station in Istanbul on the day they arrived in the country.

They are thought to have been driven to a border crossing point by people smugglers before being met there by IS militants.

Police apology

The head of the Met Police apologised to the girls’ parents earlier this week after they failed to receive a letter intended for them.

The families had complained after the letter, about a fellow school friend who went to Syria last year – was given to the girls instead of being sent directly to them.

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said he was sorry the letter “didn’t get through” but told the Home Affairs Select Committee there was nothing more police could have done to prevent the girls leaving for Syria.

The families of the schoolgirls told the committee they would have done more to monitor the girls if they had known one of their friends had already gone to Syria.


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