A British schoolgirl’s plans to travel to Syria to join Islamic State have been disrupted thanks to a tip off by an undercover newspaper investigation, British police have said.
The Daily Mail newspaper alerted Scotland Yard about the ‘vulnerable’ 16-year-old from east London, leading to a police raid on the girl’s family home on Wednesday, May 20, 2015 after which the girl was taken into protective custody.
A journalist of the Daily Mail newspaper, pretending to be a 16-year-old girl, had been engaged in conversations online with the girl’s older sister who is described as a “groomer” for IS.
The sister, who is already in Syria had been trying to convince the reporter to accompany her sibling.
The UK home secretary, Theresa May, said the case was one of grooming via social media and highlighted the “threat” from IS.
The paper reports that the young girl had intended to travel to the Syrian border, via Turkey and Switzerland after finishing her GCSE exams, in order to marry a jihadi fighting for IS.
IS have started to use coded applications on smartphones to send detailed instructions, the paper reports.
The Metropolitan Police’s counter-terrorism command’s head, Richard Walton, said: “We were made aware of a vulnerable young girl on Monday ( May 18, 2015).
“Upon receiving the information officers acted promptly and were able to identify the girl concerned, and preventative steps have now been taken to do all we can to safeguard her.”
The Police Commander added: “This case is a frightening example of how quickly social media can be used to groom vulnerable young people… This is a stark reminder to parents and the community of the speed with which these cases can develop.”
The British Home Secretary, Theresa May said the incident showed the “seriousness of the threat” from IS.
According to her: “The police and security service are working hard every day to keep our country safe, but it is up to all of us to stand united against extremism, support the pluralistic values that underpin our society, and stop young and vulnerable people from being drawn into this kind of trouble.”
Scotland Yard has recently revealed that more than 700 Britons have travelled to Syria, with about half of this number having gone back to the UK. It said a “significant proportion” of those who made the trip planned to join IS.