No-Return Risk Seen for British Teenagers Traveling to Syria

Three British teenage girls who flew to Turkey in an attempt to enter Syria won’t be able to return if they join the Islamic State, according to a U.K. organization for Muslim women.

“I don’t think there is any return for them,” Mussurut Zia, general secretary of the Muslim Women’s Network U.K., said on the BBC Breakfast show on Saturday. “I don’t see how they would be able to get back. Not for a moment do I believe the girls know what they’re getting into. I don’t think they will be told the true reality.”

The three girls traveled to Istanbul from Gatwick Airport on Feb. 17, according to a statement from London’s Metropolitan Police Service. Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and an unidentified 15-year-old are close friends from east London. Although U.K. police spoke to the girls in December regarding the disappearance of a fourth friend, their departure has come as a “great surprise” to both police and their families, according to the statement.

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, who faces national elections in May, described the case as “deeply concerning” and appealed for help from British schools to combat extremism, the Press Association reported.

“The fight against Islamist extremist terror is not just one that we can wage by the police and border control,” Cameron said in High Wycombe, England, according to the PA. “It needs every school, every university, every college, every community to recognize they have a role to play.”

Western Migrants

Britons continue to travel to Syria, which has seen thousands of fatalities and a number of public beheadings carried out by the Islamic State. Hundreds of British men and women have entered the country since fighting began, U.K. police said. U.K. authorities arrested a record number of people on Syrian-related terrorism charges in 2014.

The number of western migrants to Syria and Iraq since the conflict with the Islamic State started is estimated at 3,000, with as many as 550 of them women, according to a January research paper by the Institute of Strategic Dialogue called “Becoming Mulan? Female Western Migrants to ISIS.”

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