The parents of three Bethnal Green schoolgirls who are believed to have joined terror group Isis in Syria issued an emotional statement on Mother’s Day – and took the opportunity to attack the authorities once more.
The families of 15-year-olds Shamima Begum and Amira Abase, along with Kadiza Sultana, 16, wanted to see their daughters’ safe return they said. They are now believed to be in the Isis stronghold of Raqqa.
The statement said: “We, the families of missing schoolgirls, pray for the immediate safe return of our beloved daughters.
“We have been disappointed by the handling of this matter by the school, Met police and the local authority.
“We feel our loss more acutely on Mother's Day as we look over to their beds and see only the spaces left behind by them.”
The statement came as the identity of another Bethnal Green Academy student who left for Syria in December.
The disappearance of teenager Sharmeena Begum prompted the Metropolitan Police to visit the school but it was the ineffectiveness of the police to inform parents about the questioning that has brought the Met and the school in for criticism.
The statement continued: “We have been disappointed by the handling of this matter by the school, Met police and the local authority, all of whom we feel failed to act appropriately and pass on vital information to us or indeed between each other.
“As parents, we expect the safeguarding of our children to be the top priority of schools and the local authority whilst our children are in their care. Had we been made aware of circumstances sooner, we ourselves could have taken measures to stop the girls from leaving the UK.”
The families did acknowledge the efforts by Tower Hamlets Council to curb radicalisation as well as the apology by Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, who said “with the benefit of hindsight” officers should have communicated with the families.
“We note and appreciate Tower Hamlets Council’s very recent attempt to educate parents with respect to such dangers with a pamphlet on radicalisation and extremism.
"Likewise, we appreciate the police’s apology with respect to their mishandling. We hope other families won’t have to bear the same pain that we are enduring at the moment, and that lessons are learned from our experience.”
Bethnal Green Academy principal Mark Keary has previously said that there was no evidence the girls were radicalised as the school.
Image: Sahima Begum, right,, sister of Shamima Begum leaves Parliament with Abase Hussein, left, father Amira Abase after attending the Home Affairs Select Committee earlier this month