Interpol, security services in 6 countries look for Russian student allegedly kidnapped by ISIS

Reuters / Ali Jarekji
Russia's Foreign Ministry and security services internationally are involved in the search for a 19-year old Russian student, who went missing last week. The girl is believed to have been recruited by ISIS, her family’s lawyer said.

Varvara Karaulova, a student in the philosophy department of Moscow State University, went missing on May 27, her father Pavel Karaulov announced on Facebook. The parents called in police after the girl told her mother she was going to the university, but did not return home that night.

Security services managed to track the girl's phone and passport, discovering that Varvara is currently in Turkey on the border with Syria, Pavel Karaulov claims. She took a flight from Moscow to Istanbul, "presumably to be transferred to Syria or Libya," he added.

My daughter is missing in Turkey!Please help to stop kidnapping and people trafficking!My daughter Varvara (Pavlovna)...Posted by Pavel Karaulov on Friday, May 29, 2015

Russian services as well as Interpol are trying to determine her whereabouts, lawyer Aleksandr Karabanov told TASS news agency. "Requests to five Interpol offices have been sent, including England, America and Turkey," he said. He also mentioned Spain and Syria among the countries involved in the search.

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The girl's family doubt their daughter went on the run voluntarily, and their lawyer claims Varvara was recruited by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

"There are positive indicators that the girl has been recruited - which so far cannot be disclosed for legal reasons. An organization which made the decision to kidnap her did so to use her in their interests. Presumably, the girl will be used as an influence agent in Europe," lawyer Aleksandr Karabanov told Russia's Kommersant daily, adding that the Russian girl who is fluent in English, Arabic, German, French and Latin, might be used to recruit "students like her."

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If the girl has not been forcibly hidden - which according to the lawyer may be the case - her family hopes she might contact them through social media.

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The lawyer added that Varvara’s situation is "not an individual case," but rather the result of an "organized network... with serious financial flows... working in Moscow and other Russian cities," which may be uncovered in solving this case.

Russia's Foreign Ministry "is actively working on locating Varvara Karaulova's whereabouts," the Ministry said on Wednesday.

The Russian General Consulate in Istanbul confirmed to RIA Novosti that diplomats have been briefed regarding the case, and measures are being taken to find the girl.

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The girl began learning Arabic at university last year, her father said, adding that since then a lot of books on Islam have appeared in her library. As the girl was studying philosophy and culture, her father did not pay it much attention.

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Varvara hasn't been hiding her commitment to Islam, the head of the Moscow State University philosophy department, Vladimir Mironov, told RIA Novosti, adding that "she has been wearing hijab." The girl's father said he had only been told about her wearing dark full length dresses and skirts by her friends. Varvara "always left home wearing casual clothes, and might have been changing her outfit elsewhere," Pavel Karaulov told Russia's The Insider websource.

The girl has also recently changed her name on a mobile messenger from the Russian Varvara to Amina, written in Arabic, her friends from school told LifeNews.

"This is a real threat," Karaulov told The Insider, adding that the issue of IS recruiting is being "underestimated" in Russia. Having said that he has been in contact with many people around the world regarding the matter, the missing girl's father said the threat "is not being realized, and no actions are taken to prevent it…People should at least be warned that such danger exists,” adding that the contacts he's built could be a base for an international "standoff network."

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It is believed thousands of Europeans and hundreds of American citizens have traveled to Iraq and Syria to join the ranks of Islamic State. Many teenagers internationally are feared to have been recruited by the jihadists, with hundreds of children reportedly kidnapped to be also used as cannon fodder in terror attacks.