1 Oct 2014

‘Please come back’ – parents of missing Bristol girl

The parents of Yusra Hussien, a 15-year-old schoolgirl from Bristol thought to have fled to Syria to join Islamic State extremists, have made an emotional plea for her to return.

The teen was reported missing from her home in Bristol last week, and is thought to be in Turkey, probably with another 17-year-old girl who is also missing.

Speaking at a press conference, Mohammed and Safiya Hussien said they were increasingly becoming concerned for their daughter. “As every day passes we become more and more concerned about her safety and welfare,” said Mr and Mrs Hussien.

“Yusra, our daughter, is a very young bright bubbly girl who is loved by not only her family but her peers, teachers and her community. She’s a typical teenager – she loves to play table tennis and to ride her bicycle and she used to run with her brother, who’s the next Usain Bolt.

“Our family is very heartbroken and we are struggling to come to terms with this situation. The pain that we as parents feel, at not knowing her safety, is very distressing, and is something we believe every parent can relate to.

Internet propaganda

Yusra, who is thought to have been exposed to Islamic State propaganda on the internet, has been missing since Wednesday September 24.

Mr and Mrs Hussien said they still hoped that Yusra had not yet been radicalised: “There have been many assumptions and speculations claiming that Yusra is travelling to Syria, that she may be an extremist, or that she is planning to become a jihadist bride, all of which have not, as yet, been proved with any concrete evidence.”

Mrs Hussien appealed directly to her daughter to return: “Please dear Yusra, I love and I miss you, my heart is torn, and I want you home as soon as possible.

“Your brothers and baby sister are missing you and the house has not been the same since you left.”

Mr Hussien said: “From your father – Yusra, I’m not angry, I just want you to be safe. Please come back.”

International search

On Tuesday, Avon and Somerset Police said they were working with the Met Police and their network of international liaison officers to try and find the 15-year-old and encourage her to return to safety.

Louisa Rolfe, assistant chief constable of Avon and Somerset Police said: “”We can confirm that a 15-year-old student from Bristol has travelled to Turkey and we understand she may be attempting to make her way to Syria.

“There are indications she may have been radicalised but at the moment our priority is to find her before she crosses the border to Syria and make sure she is safe.
“We must all be vigilant and ready to spot the signs of radicalisation. Often, young Muslims who go to Syria hold can be naive and don’t recognise that they are being sucked into joining extremist groups.”

Yusra Hussien is feared to be the latest of a number of British muslims leaving the country to join jihadi fighters in Syria and Iraq. It is estimated that around ten percent of those leaving the country are girls and women, who are barred from fighting but can marry male jihadi fighters.

In September, the parents of 20-year-old Aqsa Mahmood from Glasgow made a plea for their daughter to return home. She is believed to have travelled to Syria and married an IS fighter, after becoming increasingly radicalised watching the Middle East crisis unfold.

At the Conservative Party conference on Tuesday, Home Secretary Theresa May said she has so far removed the passports of 25 Britons trying to get there, while 103 people have been arrested in relation to terrorism in Syria. Of those arrested, 24 have been charged and five convicted.