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  1. National

'No evidence' Syria runaway girls involved in terrorism

There is "no evidence" three girls who ran away to join Islamic State militants in Syria have committed any terrorist offences, MPs have heard.

Asst Commissioner Mark Rowley told the Home Affairs Select Committee that the girls would be able to return to their families if they returned to the UK.

Asst Commissioner Mark Rowley said the girls were not known to have committed any terror offences
  1. National

Police: 1,000 extremist websites a week taken down

Counter-terrorism police are taking down around 1,000 sites a week believed to be contributing to radicalising people to extremist views, MPs have been told - though the people behind them remain mostly at large.

Metropolitan Police chief Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe gave evidence to MPs

Metropolitan Police chief Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said officers had several lines of inquiry about people trying to radicalise people towards extremist views, and who may have been involved in recruiting three teenage girls who ran away to join militants in Syria.

He said efforts were being made to prevent radicalisation in prisons and communities, but said the internet was an emerging and growing problem.

He said officers were "sometimes" able to track down those behind the sites, but often they were based overseas, which made things more difficult.

  1. National

Met chief admits lack of Muslim officers a 'problem'

London's police chief has admitted that a lack of Muslim staff in government's Prevent scheme is a problem when trying to tackle radicalisation.

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Metropolitan Police Commissioner, said of 32,000 police officer there were just 300 Muslim officers - and said he realised the ratio was small compared to the Muslim population of London as a whole.

We would want more Muslims to be part of the police force, and part of the counter-terrorism squad.

– Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe
  1. National

Met Police chief apologises to Syria runaway girls' families

London's chief of police has apologised to the families of three girls who ran away to Syria that a letter warning them of the risk of radicalisation did not reach them as intended.

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe apologised to the girls' families

Speaking to the Home Affairs Select Committee, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said:

I'm sorry that [the families] are in this situation, and I'm also sorry that the letter we intended to get to them didn't get through. Clearly, that failed. It was intended for them, and it failed, and for that of course we are sorry.

– Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe

He said the girls were only spoken to as part of an investigation into another girl who went to Syria, and said neither the trio's family, the police, nor the school realised they planned to join her.


  1. National

'Not enough' done to highlight warning signs of radicalisation

Not enough is being done to let parents and families know the warning signs of radicalisation, MPs have been told.

The families gave evidence to MPs

Abase Hussein, the father of one of the three girls who ran away to join Islamic State militants in Syria, said he still would not recognise the signs, even after his experience.

Sahmina Begum and Fahmida Aziz both agreed, and said they felt the responsibility should like with schools as the "most trusted" source of information.

  1. National

Mystery over how girls paid for £1k flights to Turkey

There was "no sign" that three girls had been radicalised before they ran away to join Islamic State militants in Syria - and no clue as to how they paid to travel there, MPs have heard.

The families of the three schoolgirls who disappeared together said they did not see any noticeable change in behaviour - not their religious devotion, everyday behaviour nor use of social media.

Fahmida Aziz, cousin of 16-year-old Kadiza Sultana, said they were also at a loss to explain how they got hold of the money to pay for the flights to Turkey, which would have cost more than £1,000.

MPs at the Home Affairs Select Committee also heard that after the first girl ran away, risk assessments should have been done on the seven girls believed to be at risk - but this was not done, and still has not been done on two younger sisters of the girls, who attend the same school.

  1. National

Girl felt 'harrassed' by police after radicalisation interview

One of the other girls interviewed by police concerned about radicalisation felt she was being "harrassed" by police, MPs have heard.

She was one of seven spoken to in December after one of their classmates left to join Islamic State militants in Syria, after which warning letters were given to the girls to pass on to their families.

Kadiza Sultana, Shamima Begum, and Amira Abase flew to Turkey two weeks ago.

Three of the girls - Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and Amira Abase, 15 - hid the letters instead of passing them on, and subsequently followed in their fellow pupil's footsteps.

Sahmina Begum, sister of runaway Shamima, said the "fourth girl" had been friends with her sister but had not known the first girl, and had complained that police were "harrassing" her.

MPs heard that the missing letters could have played a "critical" role in stopping the three girls leaving.

  1. National

Warning letters 'terrified' girls who ran away to Syria

Warning letters given to the families of three girls who ran away to join Islamic State militants in Syria may have triggered their departure, a spokesman for the family has told MPs.

The father of one the girls, Abase Hussein told the Home Affairs Select Committee that the letter "terrified" his daughter Amina.

Abase Hussein said the letter 'terrified' his daughter

Tasnime Akunjee, a solicitor for the families, they were considering the possibility that the letters - which asked the girls to "rat on" their friends - may have prompted them to step up existing plans, or even to develop the plans completely.

Mr Abase added that he believed the letters warning families that they were at risk of radicalisation was a "heavy burden" to place on a young girl.

I strongly disagree that the letter should be given to 15-year-old young girls because the word police by itself, terrorism, a heavy burden. We feel that we, as a parent, have been neglected.

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.

– Abase Hussein, father
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