UPDATE: A man has been arrested for allegedly helping missing girls from Bethnal Green to enter Syria

Left to right: Shamima Belgum,  Amira Abase and Kadiza Sultana. Pic: Metropolitan Police

Left to right: Shamima Belgum, Amira Abase and Kadiza Sultana. Pic: Metropolitan Police

A man has been arrested for allegedly helping three Tower Hamlets schoolgirls enter Syria, according to the Turkish Foreign Minister.

The BBC reported that the man in question works for the intelligence agency of a country, that is part of the coalition against the Islamic State (IS).

Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkish Foreign Minister, has said that the man is not from the USA or any of the EU member states, but his country of origin has not yet been confirmed.

Shamima Begum, Amira Abase, both 15, and Kadiza Sultana, 16, who were studying their GCSEs at Bethnal Green Academy, left their homes on February 17, to fly to Turkey and later cross the border into an area of Syria controlled by Isis.

The Foreign Office has confirmed that they have been in contact with the Turkish authorities and that the Metropolitan Police have notified the girls’ families.

A spokesperson for the Foreign Office said: “There has been close cooperation between ourselves and the Turkish authorities, and the foreign secretary is in regular contact with his Turkish counterpart.”

Earlier this week, the MPS apologised to the girls’ parents for failing to deliver a letter intended for them, and handing them to their daughters instead. The letter concerned a friend of the girls, who went missing in 2014.

Tasnime Akunjee, the family’s solicitor, said that if the families had been informed about the letters and the possible radicalisation, they may have been able to address the issue with the girls before they left the country.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe told the Home Affair Select Committee: “In hindsight, we now know that these girls were planning to go and neither the family, the police, the school nor anyone else realised that.”

Earlier this month, CCTV images were released that appeared to show the girls sitting at a bus stop in Istanbul. They waited at Bayrampasa bus station for about 18 hours before being driven to Urfa, near the Syrian border.

Turkish deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arinç had criticised UK police for not taking “necessary measures”, but the Metropolitan Police have denied allegations that it took three days to inform Turkey on three missing schoolgirls.

It is believed that the girls crossed the border near Kilis with help from people smugglers and were met in Syria by IS militants.


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