BEIRUT: Young people in the United Kingdom are continuing to leave their homes abruptly and head for jihadist groups active in Syria and Iraq, British media reports said over the weekend.
The Daily Mail reported that two girls, 16-year-old twins from the city of Manchester, have been the subject of a police manhunt after they went missing last Thursday.
The newspaper said the girls contacted their family from Syria, where their brother is believed to be an insurgent. Police are trying to determine how the girls secured the money to make their trip, which began with a flight to Istanbul.
The two girls, of Somali origin, said they were happy to be in Syria, according to The Sun newspaper, and had no intention of returning.
In a separate case, the Police Service of Northern Ireland has said it is looking into reports that a man joined the fight against President Bashar Assad after telling his parents he was holidaying in Turkey.
A brother of 25-year-old Eamon Bradley told The Daily Mirror that the family believed “he must have been brainwashed.”
Another Brit who says he is fighting alongside militants in Syria has said he will return to the U.K. when he sees “the black flag of Islam” hanging over Buckingham Palace.
The man, who called himself Abu Osama, said he had been taking part in military training, making bombs and fighting with the Nusra Front.
Osama, whose accent suggested he comes from the north of England, claimed to have been fighting for the establishment of a caliphate.
He told the BBC: “There is nothing in Britain – it is just pure evil.
“If and when I come back to Britain it will be when this Khilafah – this Islamic state – comes to conquer Britain and I come to raise the black flag of Islam over Downing Street, over Buckingham Palace, over Tower Bridge and over Big Ben.”
An estimated 500 British Muslims are believed to have taken up arms in Syria.
More than 100 British imams signed a letter released Friday calling on British Muslims not to travel to Iraq or Syria to fight.
“We urge the British Muslim communities to continue the generous and tireless efforts to support all of those affected by the crisis in Syria and unfolding events in Iraq, but to do so from the U.K. in a safe and responsible way,” the open letter said.