A 15-year-old girl from Bristol who has been missing since last week may be trying to get to Syria, say police, who fear that she may have been radicalised and trying to join an extremist group.
The teen, who has not been named, was reported missing from her home in Bristol last week and is now known to be in Turkey.
Police said they have been tracking her movements and were concerned that she might be on her way to Syria, amid “indications” that she has been radicalised.
On Tuesday, Home Secretary Theresa May will call for more powers to ban extremist groups in Britain, in her address to the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham. She is also expected to say that Conservatives will ban extremists from appearing on television.
Louisa Rolfe, assistant chief constable of Avon and Somerset Police, said the force was working with the Met Police and their network of international liaison officers to try and find the missing 15-year-old, and encourage her to return safely.
Often, young Muslims who go to Syria hold can be naive and don’t recognise that they are being sucked into joining extremist groups – Louisa Rolfe
“We can confirm that a 15-year-old student from Bristol has travelled to Turkey and we understand she may be attempting to make her way to Syria,” she said.
“There are indications she may have been radicalised but at the moment our priority is to find her before she crosses the border to Syria and make sure she is safe.
‘Spot the signs of radicalisation’
“We must all be vigilant and ready to spot the signs of radicalisation. Often, young Muslims who go to Syria hold can be naive and don’t recognise that they are being sucked into joining extremist groups.”
She added: “This is not about criminalising these young people, it’s about preventing tragedies.”
In July, twin schoolgirls from Manchester followed their brother to Syria and are now believed to be married to Islamic State group fighters.
A spokeswoman for the family of the missing girl urged her to return home and told ITV News she is “incredibly bright, articulate and popular”.
Their local councillor Hibaq Jama said that the family was “absolutely devastated” and “distraught”. The teenager had left for school as usual on the morning of her disappearance but was not there when her father went to collect her that afternoon.
Ms Jama read a message on behalf of the family which said: “Please come back. We miss you very much. You are not in any trouble. We just want you to be safe and to come home as soon as possible.”