Airports must do more to prevent British teenagers travelling to join Isis, says David Cameron

The Turkish intelligence force is understood to be hunting for the three missing British girls in Istanbul

Kunal Dutta
Tuesday 24 February 2015 02:43
Kazida Sultana, 16, Amira Abase, 15, and Shamima Begum, 15, (left to right)
Kazida Sultana, 16, Amira Abase, 15, and Shamima Begum, 15, (left to right)

Airports, airlines and border security staff need to do more to prevent radicalised British teenagers travelling to join radical group Islamic State, the Prime Minister has said.

David Cameron told MPs he was "horrified" over by the case of the disappearance of Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and 15-year-old Amira Abase.

The trio - all described as "straight-A students" at Bethnal Green Academy in east London - flew to Istanbul in Turkey from Gatwick airport last Tuesday. It is feared they had plans to travel across the border into war-torn Syria, although police said there was a "good chance" they were still in Turkey.

Mr Cameron said that the problem was "not just an issue for our police and border controls", and that everyone from educational institutions to religious leaders and families had a duty to help prevent young people being radicalised by IS - also known as Isis or Isil.

"What this incident has highlighted is the concerning situation where unaccompanied teenagers like these - who are not a known risk - can board a flight to Turkey without necessarily being asked questions by the airline,” he added. "We need new proportionate arrangements with airlines to ensure that these at risk children are properly identified and questioned - and the Home Secretary and Transport Secretary will be working with the airlines to bring this about.

"Whenever there are concerns, police at the border should be alerted so they can use the new temporary passport seizure powers to stop people travelling."

The Home Secretary Theresa May and Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin are to talk to airlines about "proportionate" arrangements to ensure those at risk are identified and helped. Gatwick and Heathrow airport are among the airports that have already indicated that they are prepared to help.

The Turkish intelligence force is understood to be hunting for the girls in Istanbul, along with local police assisted by the British police and security services. But yesterday it emerged that Ms Begum had used the passport of her 17-year-old sister, Aklima, to leave the UK.

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