Families 'shocked' over UK teens thought to be in Syria
Police say they are believed to have taken a flight from Manchester airport to Turkey on March 31
The families of two British teenage boys, from the same town as one of the 2005 London bombers, spoke Tuesday of their “profound shock” over suspicions the two had joined the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group in Syria.
British police said Tuesday they were investigating a report that Hassan Munshi and Talha Asmal, both 17 and from the town of Dewsbury in Yorkshire, had joined the militant group.
“Naturally, we are in a state of profound shock and are trying to come to terms with the predicament we find ourselves in and we hope and pray that no other family finds itself in our situation,” a statement from the families of the two boys said.
“These were just two ordinary Yorkshire lads... We would implore all parents to be extra vigilant, although as we found, it’s near impossible to know your children have been groomed and brainwashed.”
Munshi was working as an apprentice and Asmal was taking his final school exams, the statement said.
Regional police said the two were believed to have boarded a flight from Manchester to Dalaman in southwest Turkey on March 31.
“Syria is an extremely dangerous place and the public will be aware of the dangers these boys may face,” said Assistant Chief Constable Mark Milsom.
“The choice of returning home from Syria is often taken away from those that come under the control of ISIS, leaving their families in the UK devastated and with very few options to secure their safe return.”
British media reported that one of the teenagers is a relative of Hammaad Munshi, who is the grandson of a leading Islamic scholar in Dewsbury.
In 2008, Munshi became the youngest Briton ever to be found guilty of terror offences.
He was 16 when he was arrested in a police crackdown on an extremist cell and was found guilty of distributing detailed instructions online on how to make napalm, explosives, detonators and grenades.
Dewsbury was also the hometown of Mohammad Sidique Khan, the ringleader of four homegrown suicide bombers who carried out the July 7, 2005 bombings which killed 52 people on three Underground trains and a bus in London.
The news comes just days after six people were arrested leaving the seaport of Dover on suspicion of Syria-related terror offences.
Nine Britons were also arrested trying to cross over from Turkey to Syria last week.
Hundreds of Britons are believed to have joined ISIS in Syria in recent months despite a new law that reinforces security checks at airports.