UPDATED: Families ‘gravely worried’ after Dewsbury teens flee country to Syria

Latest news...
Latest news...

A brother of the UK’s youngest convicted terrorist is believed to have fled Dewsbury to join Islamic State fighters in Syria.

The Times had reported that teenager Hassan Munshi – a younger brother of Hammaad Munshi – disappeared from the town with a friend last week.

We are extremely concerned for the safety of these two boys

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Milsom

Now North East Counter Terrorism Unit has confirmed that West Yorkshire Police received reports that two 17-year-old boys were believed to have travelled to the country.

Police said they had been supporting the family and carrying out extensive enquiries alongside the terrorism unit since their disappearance.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Milsom said: “Syria is an extremely dangerous place and the public will be aware of the dangers these boys may face.

“The choice of returning home from Syria is often taken away from those that come under the control of Islamic State, leaving their families in the UK devastated and with very few options to secure their safe return.

“We are extremely concerned for the safety of these two boys and would urge anyone with information to come forward and speak to us.

“Our priority is for their safe return; their families are gravely worried about them and want them home.”

The pair were last seen by their families on Tuesday March 31 and are believed to have boarded a Thomas Cook flight at Manchester Airport that day to Dalaman in Turkey.

Searches for them had focused on the Turkish side of the Syrian border, but they are now believed to be in Syrian territory.

Assistant Chf Con Milsom added: “Anyone who is concerned that a friend, family or relative may be contemplating travelling to Syria can discuss with the local police or local authorities safeguarding units either by contacting 101 or attending their local neighbourhood Policing teams.

“By discussing with local officers, they can intervene and provide families with support and advice.

“Our priority is to keep our communities safe and deter them away from areas of danger such as Syria.

“This is not about criminalising people. It is about preventing tragedies by offering support to communities, families, young and vulnerable people.”

Hammaad Munshi, of Greenwood Street, Savile Town, was 15 when he was arrested by police in 2006. Officers found instructions for making explosives including napalm and grenades hidden in his bedroom.

Police also found a “how to kill” guide during the search and two bags of ball bearings – often used as shrapnel by suicide bombers – in one of his pockets.

The Westborough High School pupil was found guilty in 2008 when he was 18 and jailed for two years.

Kirklees Council chief executive Adrian Lythgo said: “We are deeply concerned for these young people and will continue to work in close partnership with the counter terrorism unit, West Yorkshire Police, our communities and schools to prevent and eradicate any threats and concerns.

“We need to talk openly about these risks that are posed to our young people, and to work together to protect them.

“Communities and families can contact police about anyone they feel may be vulnerable. This includes anyone who is showing signs of becoming radicalised, who may have returned to the UK from Syria or may be planning to go to Syria or another conflict zone.”