UK & World News
Terror Police 'Failed To Act' Over Twin Sisters
Anti-terrorist officers have been accused of an intelligence failure following the disappearance from home of two Manchester sisters.
Police confirmed yesterday that twins Salma and Zahra Halane are believed to have fled to Syria after initially travelling in secret from Manchester airport to Istanbul.
Mohammed Shafiq of the Ramadhan Foundation told Sky News that he believed the Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU) had not acted on intelligence and that the girls had been "left to their own devices".
The North West CTU today refused to answer questions about the girls' disappearance and specifically whether they had any knowledge that one of their brothers has reportedly joined up with the militant extremist group ISIS in Syria.
In a written statement, the head of the North West CTU said the 16-year-old twins posed a threat to themselves and potentially their community.
But they have refused to say whether or not they had received any intelligence concerning the girls' family prior to their disappearance.
Mohammed Shafiq said the police were generally doing a good job in helping to prevent the radicalisation of young British Muslims but he said they did not appear to have acted on warnings regarding travel routes to Syria.
He said: "There are a lot of question marks concerning this issue and the CTU's conduct. We have been warning for sometime of the route from the UK to Istanbul and then by road to Syria.
"The word on the street is that the girls' brother had been in Syria for a year."
A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said that their "watchword" on publicity surrounding the investigations concerning Salma and Zahra Halane had been "low-key".
The girls reportedly slipped away from their house on the night of June 26 and were reported missing only when their parents found their bedrooms empty the following morning.
The sisters have called home from Syria to say they are safe but have reportedly insisted that they will not be returning to the UK.
Meanwhile the Manchester mosque where members of the girls' family are believed to have worshipped have issued a statement condemning their actions.
The Al-Furqan Islamic Centre said: "The Somali community here at the centre is shocked and appalled by the recent news of the missing twins of Somali origin and we hope they are found and return safely to their distressed family.
"We have a firm policy in supporting community cohesion and oppose any criminal or extreme ideologies that contradict the peaceful teachings of Islam."