Schools are on high alert over fears that students groomed by the barbaric Islamic State (IS) may run away to join the terror group in Syria over the Easter holidays.
The warning follows the case of three London schoolgirls –Shamima Begum, Amira Abase, both 15, and Kadiza Sultana, 16, who fled to the war zone via Turkey during a half-term break in February.
“I have been in regular contact with two head teachers from schools in west and east London who have voiced concerns over their students being “groomed and seduced” by Islamic State online, Nazir Afzal, former chief prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.
However he added that the heads were unwilling to inform Scotland Yard for fear of thier pupils being investigated.“One head said he was being approached almost on a daily basis by parents who fear their kids are about to go to Syria.
Both said they were scared of the Easter break and wouldbe very relieved if all their pupils came back after the holidays,” Afzal said.
“They didn’t know what to do. They’re told to direct parents to the police, but the parents don’t want the police to be told and the heads don’t want to criminalise their pupils. They wanted to know why there was no therapeutic, preventative option for these children,” he added.
An estimated 600 British nationals, many of an them teenagers or in their early 20s, have joined the IS insurgency since 2013. Several schoolchildren have already slipped into militant-held territory, including the three girls from Bethnal Green Academy in east London.
They waited until the school break before paying cash for direct flights from London to Istanbul and are now believed to be in the IS stronghold of Raqqa.
Their parents have admitted that some of the money may have been raised by selling family jewellery.Another five girls from the same school have had their passports confiscated by anti-terror police amid suspicion that they were also planning to join IS.
The home affairs select committee, chaired by Keith Vaz, previously called for a driveto win the “hearts and minds” of vulnerable teenagers.“Communication between police, schools and parents was in need of vast improvement,” Vaz said.