A Failure to Prevent?

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Officials Blamed for not Stopping Three Girls Travelling to Syria



“Star GCSE pupils” Kadiza Sultana, aged 16, Shamima Begum and Amira Abase, aged 15, are feared to have travelled to Syria to join Islamic State. They are believed to have been influenced by 20 year old Aqsa Mahmood, who went to Syria to be a Jihadi bride in 2013. She was reportedly in contact with one of the three girls.


Although Mahmood’s family have condemned her actions and expressed outrage that she may have had a role to play in the three girls’ disappearance, they also pointed blame to security services.


They stated, “Aqsa’s social media has been monitored since she disappeared over a year ago, yet despite alleged contact between the girls and Aqsa, they failed to stop them from leaving the UK to Turkey, a staging post for Syria.”


Mahmood, who moved from Glasgow to Syria to marry an IS fighter, uses a Twitter account to encourage British women to join her in Syria and recently, Shamima sent her a message through Twitter.


The Mahmood family statement said despite UK government “rhetoric” about IS, authorities had not taken “basic steps to stop children leaving” to join extremists.


Kadiza, Shamima and Amira, who all attended Bethnal Green Academy in east London, travelled from Gatwick to Turkey after telling their parents they were going out for the day. It is unknown whether they have crossed over from Turkey to Syria.


Ex-Foreign Secretary William Hague said that, “more has to be done by all of us” to stop vulnerable youngsters from being radicalised. When asked about taking passports away from children who are feared to be radicalised he commented, “It’s entirely open to parents to do that. Parents and families have a big responsibility”.


“I think that the families who have spoken out have said that this is not what Islam is about and that it is a disgrace to their family.”


“There’s been a lot of criticism over the last year of the government doing too much surveillance and it’s been difficult to get agreement on powers to update the government’s powers to intercept communications. This can be an example of why it is necessary to be able to do that in some cases.”


Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna claimed that schools could play more of a role in helping children and teenagers be more aware of world affairs.


The Labour MP said, “I think the more you are taught in school about current and world affairs the better.


“I left education a long time ago but I don’t think I had nearly enough teaching on broad world and current affairs.


“But I really do think this is not just an issue for the intelligence services, it’s for all of us in our schools, in our communities, in our families to tackle this.”


Ex-Foreign Office minister Baroness Warsi offered her take saying it was becoming apparent that more radicalisation was occurring online rather than in places of worship.


“Much research has gone into making sure that websites are taken down but we are fighting an ever-losing battle with extremist groups. One thing IS has been extremely successful at has been using the internet and social network spaces for their propaganda.”

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