UK must tighten up response to Syria cases: MP

22nd June 2015, Comments 0 comments

British authorities must "sharpen up" their response to cases of people travelling to Syria, an influential lawmaker said Monday, after meeting two men whose wives are thought to be there.

Sisters Sugra Dawood, 34, Zohra Dawood, 33, and Khadija Dawood, 30, from Bradford in northern England went missing this month with their nine children aged three to 15 after a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.

One of the sisters contacted her family in Britain last week to say the group is in Syria.

It is thought they have joined a brother believed to be fighting for the Islamic State group or another extremist organisation.

Two of the women's husbands, Akhtar Iqbal and Mohammed Shoaib, met the chairman of the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, Keith Vaz, after their lawyers wrote complaining to him about police handling of the case.

The letter accused police of "encouraging contact" between the women and their brother before they travelled, claiming they were "complicit in the grooming and radicalising of the women".

It added that Zohra Dawood had left a voicemail message for the family in Britain on Wednesday saying that the group was in Syria and that they had gone "due to the oppressive nature of the continued surveillance by the police".

Vaz said after the meeting that he would meet police Tuesday to raise the concerns and urged "quick, urgent action" when people go missing in such circumstances.

"I still think we need to sharpen up our act as far as contacting the Turkish authorities are concerned," he said. Most Britons who travel to Syria enter through Turkey.

"Turkey has always been very responsive but there's still this desire to send emails -- well, you know, you can't," Vaz added.

The family's local West Yorkshire Police "completely reject" claims that they effectively groomed the women or acted in an oppressive way.

The men left the meeting at the Houses of Parliament in London without commenting to reporters.

Prime Minister David Cameron was criticised by Sayeeda Warsi -- Britain's first female muslim minister before resigning in 2014 over government policy in Gaza -- on Sunday after he urged communities to do more to stop radicalisation.

Warsi said his speech last week had alienated some British Muslim communities.

In response, Cameron's spokesman said Monday that his comments had been focused on "some members of the community rather than all".

© 2015 AFP

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