Spy arrested in Turkey for helping 3 British schoolgirls join ISIS – Turkish foreign minister
A spy from an intelligence agency that is supporting the US-led coalition fighting Islamic State has been arrested in Turkey on suspicion of helping three British schoolgirls travel to Syria to join the jihadist group.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mehmet Cavusoglu did not disclose the nationality of the intelligence agent, but said he was not from the US or an EU country, or a citizen of the nation he is working for.
Shamima Begum, Amira Abase, both 15, and Kadiza Sultana, 16, are believed to be in Islamic State-controlled territory after disappearing from the UK last month.
Speaking on Turkish television, Cavusoglu said: “We have learnt that the British girls were helped by an intelligence officer from a coalition member country.”
The agent who assisted the girls has been detained, he added.
READ MORE: Police letters could have triggered
schoolgirls’ flight to Syria, families tell MPs
Cavusoglu told channel A Haber TV that the spy was working for a country that is part of the US-led coalition against Islamic State.
He said British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond had been informed of the arrest.
The schoolgirls, who attended Bethnal Green Academy in London, disappeared after boarding a plane from Gatwick Airport to Turkey on February 17.
The teenagers, “lured by ISIS propaganda,” are now believed to be in the extremist stronghold of Raqqa.
Families of the girls appeared before MPs on Tuesday, where they expressed their frustration at the Metropolitan Police for not doing enough to prevent their disappearance.
Relatives told the Home Affairs Select Committee they would have done more to monitor the girls had they known one of their classmates fled to Syria last December.
Although London’s Metropolitan Police sent letters to the families with information about the first schoolgirl who fled to ISIS, they sent them via the girls at their school.
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discover travel expenses checklist
Family members claimed they did not see the letters until after the teenagers disappeared.
Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, head of the Metropolitan Police service, issued an apology when quizzed by MPs during the same committee session, saying he was sorry “the letter that we intended to get to them didn’t get through.”
Solicitor Tasnime Akunjee, who represents the families, told the committee they were considering the possibility the letters may have prompted them to step up their plans, or create them in the first place.
Amira Abase’s father told MPs that the letters, which encouraged the teenagers to “rat on” their friends, left his daughter “terrified.”
“I strongly disagree that the letter should be given to 15-year-old young girls because the word police by itself, terrorism, counter-terrorism ... is a heavy burden. We feel that we, as a parent, have been neglected,” he said.
“As I know my daughter, it is difficult to say why they left this country. We are left in the middle of nowhere.”
“The letter terrified my daughter,” he said.