The relative of a Bradford family, who are believed to have fled the UK to join extremists in Syria, has said he cannot understand why any parents would take their children to a ‘warzone’.
Arshid Siddique is the first cousin of both Imran and Farzana Ameen, who were both reported missing earlier this month alongside their five children, aged between five and 15.
Mr Siddique told reporters that Farzana had told the extended family that her husband had got a new job in Dubai around two weeks ago. However, days later, they left without saying ‘goodbye’ and no contact was made again to see how they were settling in.
“My worst fears are they are going to a war zone, not for them, they are adults, it’s for the kids,” Mr Siddique said.
“I can’t understand it, I have three kids of my own, it beggars belief [why] any mother or father would want to take their children to a war zone, for whatever reason.”
Mr Siddique says he was not aware of any plans from the family to travel to join extremists, yet did say in hindsight that there were clues something was amiss.
Recalling how the family’s eldest daughter, aged 15, had been removed from school to receive home education, he continued: “We should have seen the signs. Even at that time there was something telling me something was not right. I never thought it was anything to do with what she has now done.
“I hope and pray for their safe return, they will face the music but it is not about them, it’s about the kids.”
It was announced last week by West Yorkshire Police that the family had purchased one way tickets to Turkey, sparking fears that they are travelling to join Islamic State.
West Yorkshire Police Assistant Chief Constable, Russ Foster, confirmed the purchase and the likelihood of the family travelling to a location seen by many as a ‘gateway’ for Syria and Iraq.
“We would urge anyone with information about the family’s whereabouts to come forward and speak to police so the family can safely return to the UK,” he added.
“Any piece of information, no matter how small, could help the UK or overseas’ authorities to locate the family so that they can be safely returned home to their loved ones.”