Syria girls' families question stolen jewellery claims

Video report by ITV News UK Editor Rohit Kachroo

The families of three British schoolgirls who fled to Syria to join Islamic State have questioned claims by police that they funded their journey by selling family jewellery.

Mark Rowley, the Metropolitian Police Assistant Commissioner, earlier told MPs that Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and 15-year-old Amira Abase stole jewellery from their families to pay for plane tickets worth over £1,000, and other items on a travel checklist before they disappeared.

But their families have told ITV News they are not convinced the value of the items could have helped bankroll their trip.

Khadiza's sister Halima Khanom said: "In terms of the Met saying the girls had stolen some jewellery, that was something I wanted to say more on, because my sister used to borrow a piece of jewellery off my daughters that was very sentimental to her, and that's what she's taken, and value-wise that's not something that she could've funded for her trip - that is not."

Fahmida Aziz, the 16-year-old's cousin, added: "That piece of jewellery she took is not even worth £150."

Renu Begum, Shamima's sister, said: "We haven't lost £2,000 worth of jewellery.

"My younger sisters had gone to a wedding and the missing bangles they are talking about is stuff she was wearing - that's what's gone missing.

"The value of those is not a lot, there's more sentimental value."

The total cost of items on the girls' 'travel checklist' amounted to £2,190. Credit: ITV News

They instead suggested the trip was paid for by someone else.

"I feel there is someone out there helping in terms of funding, because there's no way my sister has got the cash to fund herself," Miss Khanom added.

Miss Aziz said: "I really hope the police would now make it their business to establish where these funds came from because it clearly wasn't from home."

The three girls disappeared last month and are believed to have crossed into Syria. Credit: Metropolitan Police

While disputing the jewellery claims, the families did welcome an apology from the head of the Metropolitan Police for failing to communicate more directly with them before the girls left for Syria.

"It was really important we got an apology because we do feel along the way we've been left in the dark - we now know they've realised their mistakes and another family won't be put in the same situation we've been put in," Renu Begum, sister of Shamima Begum, told ITV News.