23 Feb 2015

‘No evidence’ missing girls radicalised at school

The headteacher of Bethnal Green Academy says there is no evidence students were radicalised at school, despite four pupils reportedly joining IS in the last 12 months.

Relatives of the missing girls make urgent appeals for the teenagers to return home

Mark Keary, head of the east London school from where three teenage girls are thought to have travelled to Syria to join Islamic State, said that pupils would have had no access to Twitter or Facebook whilst at school and said that pupils’ access to social media was “strictly regulated”.

He added that it would be “business as usual” as students return from their half-term break.

The Metropolitan police are in Turkey as the search continues for 16-year-old Kadiza Sultana and 15-year-olds Amira Abase and Shamima Begum following a public plea from their relatives for the teenagers to get in touch.

The girls, who are all from east London and described as “straight A students”, boarded a flight from Gatwick Airport to Istanbul in Turkey on Tuesday. Shamima Begum reportedly used the passport of her 17-year-old sister Aklima to leave the UK.

The girls left their homes before 8am on Tuesday providing their families with “plausible” reasons as to why they would be out for the day, police said.

Scotland Yard also revealed that the girls were previously spoken to by officers investigating the disappearance of the previous 15-year-old Bethnal Green Academy pupil who was also believed to have travelled to IS-controlled territory in December.

But there was “nothing to suggest at the time” that the trio were at risk and their disappearance has “come as a great surprise, not least to their own families”, a spokesman said.