Families 'Shocked' Over Dewsbury Teens In Syria
8 April 2015, 06:08
The families of two teenage boys believed to have travelled to Syria said they are 'in a state of profound shock' and are extremely concerned about the safety of their 'ordinary Yorkshire lads'.
The seventeen-year-olds have been named as Hassan Munshi and Talha Asmal, who are thought to have fled to the war-torn country after travelling to Turkey on March 31.
The boys from Dewsbury were last seen by their families on the day they are believed to have flown from Manchester to Dalaman, West Yorkshire Police said.
A statement released on behalf of the two families said:
'Both families are devastated by the events of the last few days and in particular, we are extremely concerned about the safety and well-being of our loved ones.
'Our number one priority is to get Hassan and Talha back home with their families and we implore anyone who may have any information whatsoever to get in contact with the police.
'Naturally, we are in a state of profound shock and are trying to come to terms with the predicament we find ourselves in and we hope and pray that no other family finds itself in our situation.
'These were just two ordinary Yorkshire lads who enjoyed the things that all young people enjoy at their age - both Hassan and Talha had a promising future as an apprentice and an A-level student respectively, and we are praying they will be back with us soon and are able to realise that future.
'We would implore all parents to be extra vigilant, although as we found, it's near impossible to know your children have been groomed and brainwashed.
'Syria is a frightening war-torn place and we need to urgently educate our young children about the dangers posed by those who prey on impressionable teenagers.'
Hassan is believed to be related to Hammaad Munshi, who was arrested by counter-terrorism police in 2006 at the age of 15 and later convicted over his role in a plot to murder non-Muslims, The Times newspaper reported.
West Midlands Police said it has been supporting the missing teenagers' families and carrying out extensive inquiries alongside the North East Counter Terrorism Unit.
Assistant Chief Constable Mark Milsom said:
'We are extremely concerned for the safety of these two boys and would urge anyone with information to come forward and speak to us.
'Syria is an extremely dangerous place and the public will be aware of the dangers these boys may face.
'The choice of returning home from Syria is often taken away from those that come under the control of Islamic State, leaving their families in the UK devastated and with very few options to secure their safe return.'
He urged anyone concerned that a friend or relative may be contemplating travelling to Syria to contact police or local safeguarding units.
The two teenagers are believed to have travelled on a Thomas Cook Airlines flight out of Manchester.
A spokesman for the airline said:
'Whilst we cannot confirm the names of any of our passengers who travel with us, we can reassure all our customers that we work closely with all authorities to ensure the safety of our flights in and out of the UK.'
Kirklees Council chief executive Adrian Lythgo said the council is working closely with the Counter Terrorism Unit, West Yorkshire Police, communities and schools to ``prevent and eradicate any threats and concerns''.
'We need to talk openly about these risks that are posed to our young people, and to work together to protect them', he said.
The Metropolitan Police believe around 600 Britons have travelled to Syria and Iraq since the conflict began, while around half are believed to have returned to the UK.
Nine Britons - including the son of a Labour councillor - were arrested in Turkey last week on suspicion of trying to cross the border into the neighbouring war-torn country.
Waheed Ahmed was one of five adults and four children being held by Turkish authorities after they were stopped in Hatay province last Wednesday.
Meanwhile, teenage girls Shamima Begum, Amira Abase and Kadiza Sultana are believed to be inside Syria after flying to Turkey in February.
It is understood the Bethnal Green Academy pupils from east London were following another 15-year-old girl who travelled to Syria in December.