Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Police must not be 'scapegoats' blamed for British schoolgirls joining ISIS, Cameron warns

  • Prime Minister insists politicians, parents and schools share the burden
  • Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and Amira Abase fled to Syria
  • The girls - aged 15 and 16 - boarded flight from Gatwick Airport to Istanbul
  • Families give evidence to MPs on what they claim were police failures   
The police should not become a 'scapegoat' for the disappearance of three British schoolgirls who have fled to Syria to join ISIS, David Cameron said today.

The Prime Minister insisted politicians, parents, communities and schools all had a responsibility to stop well-educated young Britons joining the brutal regime.

His warning came ahead of the family of schoolfriends Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and Amira Abase giving evidence to MPs about what they say are failures by the police.

Police spoke to the three girls just months before they disappeared and found 'no evidence' that they had been radicalised

Officers were deployed to the school as part of counter-terrorism and anti-radicalisation measures after another teenage girl from Bethnal Green Academy in east London fled to join ISIS.

In an interview with LBC radio, Mr Cameron said that no institution should be made a 'scapegoat' for the girls' disappearance.

'I think everyone has a role to play. Of course we need the police to act as swiftly as they can, we need Border Force to work as fast as they can.

'But let's be frank about this, when you have got educated British schoolgirls at an outstanding school in Greenwich finding it somehow attractive to get on a plane to travel to Syria to go and live in a country where gay people are being thrown off buildings and British citizens are being beheaded, and appalling brutality is being meted out, we have a problem, clearly, that has got to involve all of us - politicians, parents, communities, schools.

'Everyone has to work together. Let's not pretend this is simply a problem that can be dealt with by policing.'

Kadiza Sultana 16, Amira Abase 15 and Shamima Begum 15 are feared to have travelled to Syria via Turkey
Kadiza Sultana 16, Amira Abase 15 and Shamima Begum 15 are feared to have travelled to Syria via Turkey

The families of the girls have blamed failings by the police for their disappearance last month
The families of the girls have blamed failings by the police for their disappearance last month


Prime Minister David Cameron dismissed as 'nonsense' the suggestion that jihadis like Emwazi had been radicalised by their contact with security services.
Mr Cameron told LBC radio: 'The fact is we face a terrorist threat in Britain. That is the opinion of the experts who advise me and set the threat level.
'Our police and security services have a very important role to play to find out about people that could do us harm and to step in and prevent them from doing that.
'Of course we need to work with communities to do that - and we do.
'But I totally reject the idea that police or security service tactics have somehow radicalised people. That is, I think, nonsense.'
Campaign group Cage sparked outrage last month with its attempts to justify Emwazi's brutal killings of ISIS hostages.
In an extraordinary press conference, the group's research director Asim Qureshi said Kuwait-born Briton Emwazi was a 'beautiful young man', 'extremely gentle' and 'the most humble young person that I ever knew'.
The 32-year-old blamed British security services for Emwazi's radicalisation, saying he had tried to fit in but had been made to feel like an 'outsider'.
The girls' families have called for an apology from Metropolitan Police commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe after it emerged that letters were given to the girls to hand on to their parents, rather than being sent directly to them.

The letters were sent to inform parents their children had been friends with a pupil who went to Syria weeks earlier and asking for permission to take formal statements.

They were handed to the girls on February 5 and found hidden in schoolbooks in their bedrooms after the girls left on February 17.

But Mr Cameron insisted: 'If there are lessons to learn about how quick the reactions were, then I know the police will learn them. 

What I'm trying to say is I think it would be wrong to try and scapegoat any one organisation when you are dealing with something that is so profound.

'What is going wrong when girls at an amazing school somehow want to give up all Britain offers in terms of freedom and democracy and choice and opportunity? 

I'm not saying our society is perfect, but you can come from anywhere and make it to the top of Britain. 

We're an amazing country - why do people want to give that up and be part of an appalling brutal death cult?
'That goes to a big question about our country that we've all got to answer, not just the police.'
Last month Turkey accused the British authorities of for being too slow to inform it about the three London schoolgirls who travelled to Turkey en route to Syria.

Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said he hoped the girls would be found, but that it would be Britain, not Turkey, to blame if they were not.

But the claims have been rejected by the UK government, who insisted the police and other agencies were quick to act.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond spoke to Turkey's foreign minister on Saturday about what action can be taken to stop would-be jihadists from Western countries crossing the country's border with Syria in order to sign up with Islamic State.

He said today: 'Turkey is doing huge amounts and I would like to record publicly our appreciation of the support we get from the Turkish authorities, but we are all learning as we go and I think this particular case of the three schoolgirls from east London has identified some weaknesses and things we can improve,' said the Foreign Secretary.

'But it's also identified some steps that people in the community could take to keep us safe as well.

'Parents have responsibilities, schools and community workers have responsibilities, as well as the authorities and airports and airline operators.

'It's about coming together in this case to protect children - minors, juveniles - who must be protected from themselves, going about something that will be deeply damaging to their own interests as well as our national security interests.' 

No comments: