12 Mar 2015

Missing UK schoolgirls helped into Syria by ‘foreign spy’

Three British schoolgirls were helped over the Turkish border to join Islamic State militants in Syria, by a spy for one of the countries in the anti-IS coaliton, says Turkey’s foreign minister.

Missing British schoolgirls Kadiza Sultana, Amira Abase and Shamima Begum

Mevlut Cavusoglu was reported to have said that the person in question, who had since been arrested, was not an intelligence officer for a European country or America.

A source in the Turkish prime minister’s office confirmed to Channel 4 News foreign affairs correspondent Jonathan Rugman that the person arrested had been working for a western, not an Arab country.

Other coalition members include Australia and Canada as well as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates.

Turkish journalist Ceren Kenar later tweeted “my sources say the person arrested for helping the British girls that joined IS, works for Canadian intelligence service.”

Turkish newspaper Hurriyet described how Mr Cavusoglu told a TV interviewer that when he passed the news on to his British counterpart Philip Hammond, Mr Hammond responded with the words “as usual”.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said “we are aware that an arrest has been made by the Turkish national police and the Metropolitan Police have informed the families of the three girls.

“There has been close co-operation between ourselves and the Turkish authorities, and the Foreign Secretary is in regular contact with his Turkish counterpart.”


The three girls, 16-year-old Kadiza Sultana and 15-year-olds Amira Abase and Shamima Begum, boarded a flight from London’s Gatwick Airport to Istambul on 17 February without telling their families their plans.

CCTV footage later showed that they had waited some hours in a bus station before catching a coach to the border with Syria.

Their families have complained that they were not contacted directly by police who had interviewed the girls over the earlier disappearance of another school friend.

Read more - Syria girls: families' anger over school letter failure

All three failed to pass on to their parents a letter that police gave them at the time of those interviews.

CCTV footage shows British schoolgirls in Turkey: