CCTV footage obtained by Turkish news channel Ahaber purportedly shows images of three British schoolgirls, thought to be trying to join militant Sunni Islamist group Islamic State, boarding a bus in Istanbul’s Esenler district to travel to the south-eastern province of Sanliurfa, where it’s believed they have crossed into Syria.
ISTANBUL, TURKEY (RECENT – FEBRUARY 17, 2015) (AHABER) – Three British schoolgirls boarded a bus in Istanbul’s Esenler district on Feb. 18, believed to be bound for the south-eastern province of Sanliurfa, where it’s thought they crossed into Syria to join militant Sunni Islamist group Islamic State, according to CCTV footage obtained by Turkish news channel Ahaber.
The security video, shows three girls, identified as London teenagers Amira Abase, 15, Shamima Begum, 15, and Kadiza Sultana, 16, wearing large coats and entering the bus terminal on Feb 17. And 18, before boarding a bus.
The friends flew to Istanbul from London on Feb. 17.
“Officers … leading the investigation into the three missing schoolgirls from east London, now have reason to believe that they are no longer in Turkey and have crossed into Syria,” police said in a statement on Tuesday (February 24).
Thousands of foreigners from more than 80 countries have joined the ranks of Islamic State and other radical groups in Syria and Iraq, many crossing through Turkey.
Turkey has said it needs more detailed and faster information from Western intelligence agencies to intercept them.
Turkey criticised Britain on Monday (February 23), for taking too long to inform it about the schoolgirls and said it needs more detailed and faster information from Western intelligence agencies to intercept them.
The girls’ plight has prompted widespread concern in Britain, with Prime Minister David Cameron urging social media firms to do more to deal with online extremism, saying the girls appeared to have been radicalised “in their bedrooms”.
He also said airlines needed new systems to vet children travelling alone.
The three are friends with a fourth teenage girl from the same school who police believe is already in Syria, having travelled to Turkey in December.
Police said their families, who have issued urgent appeals for their daughters to return, have been surprised and devastated by their disappearance.
Security forces estimate some 600 British Muslims have travelled to the region to join the conflict there, some of them with Islamic State.
Around half have since returned, and dozens have been arrested in Britain under anti-terrorism legislation.