17 Mar 2015

New CCTV of British teenagers at Turkey airport

Sabiha Gokcen airport releases footage of three teenagers – two cousins aged 17 and a man aged 19 – from London being detained as they allegedly attempt to travel to Syria to join Islamic State.

Three teenagers – two cousins aged 17 and a man aged 19 – were stopped at Sabiha Gokcen airport near Istanbul at the weekend. They are alleged to have been planning to travel to Syria to join Islamic State.

The three, whose names have not been released, are on bail after being arrested on their return to the UK on suspicion of preparing terrorist acts.

The cousins have been described as academically bright but naive. They are believed to attend different schools and are understood to have achieved A grades in their GCSEs. Police are investigating whether they may have been radicalised by the older teenager.

Councillor Muhammed Butt, the leader of Brent Council, spoke with the two teenage would-be Syria jihadists and their families after they were released on bail.

He told Channel 4 News: “The children had no conversations about any kind of radical speak or anything else, the conversations were absolutely normal.

“One of the boys had a conversation with his father the night before and the father had asked him do you want some pocket money? The father gave him £20 and the child gave him £10 back.

‘Caught up in emotions’

“If someone is preparing to go somewhere I think you would take as much money with you as possible. And for him to give £10 back doesn’t suggest he had anything prepared or was going to do anything wrong.

He added: “Personally I don’t think they had been radicalised, absolutely not. I think what they’ve done is they’ve been caught up in emotions as such.

“They were looking for a platform to speak up or to say something and they haven’t found a space or a platform where they can have a grown up conversation about events in Syria.

“All they’ve said from the conversations I have with them is that they wanted to go out there and help,” he continued.

“One of them was saying to me ‘when can I go back to school?’ I said to him I think you have to wait a little bit longer to let things settle down and we can work with the school and everyone else and make sure things are right for you to go back.”

A Preston Manor student told the Times the school had ruled Friday prayers must be in English with a teacher present, because of fears of student radicalisation. Despite claims that Isis radicalises teenagers using social media, a friend of the boy at Preston Manor said he did not use it.

I think they are deeply misguided… We want to get them back and try to get this radical nonsense out of their heads. David Cameron

The Preston Manor pupil was a keen student who wanted to study medicine, and was calm and balanced when he talked about world affairs, his friend said.

Speaking to BuzzFeed on Monday evening about the Londoners, David Cameron said it was right the teenage boys had been arrested and questioned on their return and that he now wanted to see three girls who travelled to Syria last month brought back as well.

He said: “I think they are deeply misguided and they are potentially going to join a criminal organisation which could make them part of a criminal or terrorist conspiracy. We want to get them back and try to get this radical nonsense out of their heads.

“That people in an outstanding school can opt to go and join a death cult in Syria that believes in throwing gay people off buildings and cutting people’s heads off in the desert is deeply depressing and we should be really worried about this as a country.”

Families raised alarm

The families of two of the three London teenagers arrested reportedly raised the alarm to police, leading to the three being detained by the Turkish authorities.

Brent Council leader Muhammed Butt welcomed the quick actions of the men’s families, saying that their decision to call authorities was vital in getting the youngsters home safely.

He said: “It is good to know that these young men are now safely home with their families. This is because the families involved decided to call the authorities as soon as they realised their children were missing.”

It comes just weeks after an international manhunt was launched to find the three London schoolgirls who travelled to Istanbul on their journey to Syria.

However, Shamima Begum, 15, Amira Abase, also 15, and Kadiza Sultana, 16, who are pupils at Bethnal Green Academy, are now thought to have reached the conflict zone to become so-called “jihadi brides” with Islamic State.