Detectives have released CCTV footage of a family-of-six reported missing from Britain at a busy ferry port as they apparently make their way to Syria.
Asif Malik, 31, his partner Sara Kiran, 29, and their four young children can be seen on camera as they appear to pass through customs at Dover ferry port in the early hours of April 8.
Police have warned that the Muslim family, who were last seen in Slough, Berkshire on April 7, may be heading to Syria.
The parents and their four children – Zoha Malik, seven, Essa Malik, four, Zakariya Malik, two, and Yhaya Malik, one – boarded a ferry from Dover to Calais before travelling south through Europe by train, according to Thames Valley Police.
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Detectives have released CCTV footage of Asif Malik, 31, his partner Sara Kiran, 29, and their four young children, who have been reported missing from Britain, at a busy ferry port as they apparently head to Syria
Police say Mr Malik (pictured with one of his young children) had told his family he wanted to ‘go and live in a Muslim country’ and the family left without mentioning any holiday or travel plans to relatives, it is claimed
Members of Mr Malik’s family tonight said they had been left ‘completely devastated’ and issued a desperate plea for the six to return home. In a statement, they said: ‘We are totally distraught, upset and in shock’
Police have warned that the Muslim family, who were last seen in Slough, Berkshire on April 7, may be heading to Syria. They are pictured at Dover port before catching a ferry to Calais, France on April 8
The family, from Slough in Berkshire, are believed to have boarded the Dover to Calais ferry just after midnight on April 8 before travelling south through Europe including to Budapest in Hungary on April 12
They are believed to have boarded the ferry just after midnight on April 8 before travelling south through Budapest in Hungary on April 12.
Police say Mr Malik had told his family he wanted to ‘go and live in a Muslim country’ – and they left without mentioning any holiday or travel plans to relatives, which was ‘entirely out of character’.
Their grandmother was said to have been looking for them and had knocked on other doors in the block of flats, located above a grocery store in the town, asking if anyone had seen the family.
The alarm was raised with police when some of the children failed to attend Claycots Primary School in their home town of Slough, and officers broke down the family’s door on Thursday to enter their flat.
Members of Mr Malik’s family tonight said they had been left ‘completely devastated’ and issued a desperate plea for the six to return home.
In a statement released through Thames Valley Police, they said: ‘With the reality that our loved one Asif Malik and his family have left the UK without any notice, our lives have been completely devastated.
Asif Malik (left), 31, and his partner Sara Kiran (right), 29, were reported missing from Slough, Berkshire, after their childrenl failed to show up to school and their grandmother became worried about their whereabouts
Zoha Malik (left), seven, and Essa Malik (right), four, are among the family’s four children who are missing
‘We are totally distraught, upset and in shock. The greatest sadness is the decision by Asif and Sara to travel with their young family, such beautiful children.’
In what will be seen as a direct plea to Mr Malik, the family said: ‘Please Asif, we ask you to think about what has happened and the decisions you have made.
‘Please can you ring us or send us a message to let us know that you and the children are well. All we wish for is your safe return and especially the return of the children. We are not angry with you, we are just heartbroken.
‘We ask that if there are others out there considering leaving the UK in this manner, please consider the impact on the family members that you leave behind.’
A neighbour of the family, who did not want to be named, also said today: ‘They were a lovely family. I would see them with the kids every day – they were really nice and they were just really nice people.
‘A lot of people were saying that they were extremists and that they were very, very strong in their beliefs, but when I saw them I wouldn’t have thought that because he appeared perfectly normal.
‘These people are either that way inclined or not – they have such strong beliefs that they just think they are right and everyone else is wrong.’
He added: ‘The only thing that surprises me is that they took the kids who are really young. You could just tell they are very into their beliefs and they didn’t try to hide it.’
Neighbours said today that police had broken down the door on Thursday night to enter the family’s home
Thames Valley Police said the force is worried about a mixture of ‘the rhetoric from Islamic State encouraging people to travel to Syria, the direction of travel and concerns voiced by Asif’s family’.
Detectives described Syria as ‘an extremely dangerous place and not a place where young children should be taken’, adding that relatives of the family are ‘very concerned’ about them.
The force’s acting deputy chief constable John Campbell today told a press conference in Kidlington: ‘I’m not suggesting for one moment that they are intending to join Islamic State, I don’t think there’s anything to suggest that.
‘We know that having gone into Europe their general direction of travel is towards Turkey, thereby we make the assumption towards Syria.
‘At the same time we know that the family have voiced some concerns about the family’s intentions. There’s been a suggestion that Asif in the past has said that he would like to live in a Muslim state.’
Asked whether detectives believed the family might have been radicalised, he replied: ‘I can’t say it’s connected. The term ‘radicalisation’ is a very wide term, how people interpret their own beliefs.
‘Clearly, I don’t think there’s anything to suggest that the family do not have strong faith, indicated by the comment about the potential to live in a Muslim country.’
In an earlier statement, he added: ‘We are extremely concerned for the safety of this family, especially the four young children.
Acting deputy chief constable John Campbell (pictured at a press conference in Kidlington today) said Thames Valley Police is ‘extremely concerned for the safety of this family, especially the four young children’
The alarm was raised when some of the children failed to attend Claycots Primary School in Slough
‘We are reaching out to Asif and Sara, in the hope that they hear our messages and we encourage them to make contact with us so we can return them safely to their families who are extremely worried about them.
The children’s school, which caters for 1,200 pupils aged between three and 11, was rated ‘good’ in its latest Ofsted report in February.
Meanwhile, last night it was revealed that the university student son of a Labour councillor who was stopped at the Turkish border and arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences had been released without charge by police.
Waheed Ahmed, 21, of Rochdale, the son of Shakil Ahmed, was accused of trying to sneak into Syria with eight of his relatives and was arrested when he landed in the UK last week.
Among his relatives stopped on the border on April 1 were children aged one, three, eight and 11.
- Anyone with information should call Thames Valley Police quoting reference 342 (19/4).