UK & World News

  • 10 July 2014, 4:55

UK Twin Sisters On Run To Syria 'Pose Threat'

Twin sisters who are believed to have fled from the UK to Syria pose "a threat to themselves" and potentially their community, according to counter terrorism officers.

Salma and Zahra Halane, both 16, are thought to have left their homes in Chorlton in the middle of the night a couple of weeks ago.

Their parents are said to have reported the girls missing after finding their bedrooms empty the following morning.

The teenagers flew from Manchester airport to Turkey on June 26 before crossing the border into Syria.

It is thought they may have joined their brother, who is believed to be fighting with the extremist militant group ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant).

The head of North West England's Counter Terrorism Unit, Detective Chief Superintendent Tony Mole, said: "They are clearly posing a threat to themselves and potentially the community, and their family and friends are concerned for their well-being."

Mr Mole said the "developing" investigation into the girls' disappearance had two main strands - to safeguard them "wherever possible" and to assess any further lines of enquiry.

He said the counter terrorism unit did not know for sure why the girls were in Syria, nor exactly who they were with.

It comes as a jihadi fighter in Syria told Sky News he has been training British teenagers as young as 16 to fight in the war.

The missing girls are students at the Connell Sixth Form College in east Manchester.

They have been described as star pupils, achieving 28 GCSEs between them.

Neighbours told Sky News of their shock at news of their fleeing.

One, Jason Rock, said: "It is very, very surprising - shocking. It is shocking because they just seemed like a quiet family, a big family."

Another neighbour, Joyce Blackledge, added: "I didn't see very much of them. They were just quiet. They didn't seem to get into any trouble. They just kept themselves to themselves."

Detectives are believed to be investigating how the girls raised money for their airfares.

They are believed to have contacted their parents to say they are safe and well but have reportedly said they have no intention of returning to the UK.

Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of theRamadan Foundation, who has been in contact with the family, said: "It's the most harrowing experience for any mother and father to go through that their children are in a war zone country.

"The family had no indication they were involved in terrorism, no indication they were going to Syria.

"They were highly academic, they were highly bright teenagers who got 28GCSEs between them.

"Obviously somewhere down the line, through the internet, they have been groomed, radicalised and brainwashed.

"The family just want them to come home."

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