Teenagers 'bound for Syria' released on bail after counter-terror police arrest

The three were apprehended by police at Sabiha Gokcen Airport in Turkey

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The Independent Online

A trio of British teenagers who were arrested in Turkey as they allegedly tried to travel to Syria, have been released on bail by counter-terrorism police.

After they were returned to the UK on Saturday night, two 17-year-old boys and a man aged 19 from north-west London were detained on suspicion of preparing terrorist acts.

The families of the two boys alerted police officers when the pair did not return from Friday prayers, and raised fears they were travelling to Syria, The Times reported.

Inquiries revealed they had travelled with the 19-year-old man.

A Met police spokesman said: "Officers alerted the Turkish authorities who were able to intercept all three males, preventing travel to Syria.

"On Saturday, March 14 the three males returned to the UK and at approximately 11.10pm were arrested on suspicion of preparation of terrorist acts contrary to section five of the Terrorism Act 2006.

"They have been bailed to return to a central London police station pending further enquiries."

It is believed the three had flown to Istanbul via Barcelona, but the Foreign Office could not confirm this.

The incident comes hard on the heels of an international manhunt launched weeks ago to find three London schoolgirls who travelled to Istanbul on their journey to Syria.

It is feared Shamima Begum, 15, Amira Abase, 15, and Kadiza Sultana, 16, who are pupils at Bethnal Green Academy, have reached the conflict zone to become so-called “jihadi brides” of Isis fighters.

Yesterday, the families of the three girls launched an emotional appeal for them to come home immediately.

Saying they felt their loss “more acutely” on Mother's Day, the families also criticised authorities, saying: “With respect to the disappearance of our children we have been disappointed by the handling of this matter by the school, Met Police and the local authority, all of whom we feel failed to act appropriately and pass on vital information to us or indeed between each other.”

Around 600 Britons are believed to have travelled to Syria and Iraq since the conflict began, according to Scotland Yard assistant commissioner Mark Rowley, the national policing lead for counter-terrorism.

Speaking last month, he added that around half are believed to have returned to the UK.

MP Keith Vaz, who chairs the Home Affairs Select Committee, said the latest arrests suggest the flow of young people intending to travel to Syria is “on a much larger scale than we envisaged”.

Additional reporting by PA