Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Terror Girl, 15, Held on Airport Runway; POLICE HALT HEATHROW PLANE SECONDS FROM TAKEOFF: TEEN WAS GOING TO SYRIA'We Probably Saved the Life of Teenager Bound for Syria'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Terror Girl, 15, Held on Airport Runway; POLICE HALT HEATHROW PLANE SECONDS FROM TAKEOFF: TEEN WAS GOING TO SYRIA'We Probably Saved the Life of Teenager Bound for Syria'

Article excerpt

Byline: Martin Bentham Home Affairs Editor exclusive

A LONDON girl aged 15 has been prevented from joining the conflict in Syria after Met counterterrorism officers stopped the plane she was on as it was taxiing down the runway at Heathrow.

The girl, from Tower Hamlets, secretly saved up and bought a ticket to Istanbul in Turkey without her parents' knowledge. But she was stopped from travelling to join Islamist fighters after Scotland Yard detectives learned of her plans.

They rushed to the airport and, despite the cost and disruption, ordered her jet to turn round.

She has since been returned to her family and is now attempting to resume a normal existence in London. But another girl of 15, who detectives Continued on Page 2 Continued from Page 1 discovered was travelling at the same time, managed to depart before police could intervene.

The dramatic rescue, which took place earlier this month, was uncovered by the Evening Standard after information about the incident emerged from a source in east London. It will heighten concern about the number of girls and young women travelling to Syria and Iraq.

Met detectives say the number, though small, has risen significantly in recent months -- with several teenagers among those who have gone abroad to join fighters with Islamic State and other extremist groups.

A source said: "The plane was taxiing down the runway but we managed to turn it round. This was a big decision to take because of all the disruption it caused. But we had to stop her going. It has probably saved her life."

One concern raised by the case is how the girl -- understood to come from a caring family with no connections to extremism -- was able to buy the ticket and board the plane. The role of social media in prompting her attempted departure will also come under scrutiny.

Scotland Yard today declined to comment in detail on the case but confirmed that a "missing person inquiry" had been successfully resolved.

A spokeswoman said: "On Saturday, December 6, police received reports of a 15-year-old girl from Tower Hamlets missing from home. …

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