Mobile phone video appears to show middleman telling British girls to use Syrian passports as they change vehicles in Turkey
Video footage has emerged of three British teenage girls who are believed to have entered Syria to join Islamic State, showing them seemingly being told by a middleman to use Syrian passports while changing transport in Turkey.
The shaky mobile phone video, broadcast by Turkish broadcaster HBR, is believed to have been shot by a Syrian who helped them enter the country, a man since identified by Turkey as an intelligence agent from one of the countries within the US-led coalition against the militant group.
The footage appears to clearly show Shamima Begum, 15 and Kadiza Sultana, 16, who with their 15-year-old schoolfriend Amira Abase left their homes in Bethnal Green, east London, to fly to Turkey, before crossing into an Islamic State-controlled part of Syria.
In the video they can be seen in part of what is believed to be Turkey, taking their bags out of a vehicle, as a male voice translates for them from Arabic to English. This car, he tells them at one point, adding: Take the Syrian passport the red one.
Earlier on Friday, Turkeys foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, said a man arrested for allegedly helping the teenagers had been identified as a Syrian national working as an agent for a coalition country. He did not specify which one, but Turkish reports have said it is Canada, which is denied by Ottawa.
Turkeys Dogan news agency said the man had previously applied for asylum in Canada, and that he had helped several other Britons cross the border for a fee between $800 and $1,500 (£550 to £1,000), some of whom were travelling with the British girls.
The man, said to be a dentist from Lattakia, on Syrias Mediterranean coast, was quoted as saying that the three girls, and eight other foreign nationals who wanted to join Islamic State, had been among a bigger group brought by bus from Istanbul to Gaziantep, a city in south-east Turkey near the Syrian border. There they were transferred to taxis, which could tie in with the mobile phone footage.
He reportedly told Turkish police that he was undergoing obligatory military service in Syria when the revolution started, but deserted to join the Free Syrian Army before going to Jordan, where he applied for asylum in France, the US and Canada. All were unsuccessful, but France and Canada asked him to deliver intelligence on foreign fighters in Syria, the man said.
When Islamic State took the Syrian city of Raqqa, where the mans family lived, he returned there, and sent intelligence on foreign fighters to the Canadian embassy in Jordan. There he was contacted by a man he identified as â€œa British Isis commander, Abu Kaka, who asked him to help bring foreign fighters to the Turkish border.
According to Dogan, the man sent information to a Canadian embassy employee identified by him as Matt. Matt wanted me to send him information and photographs of foreign fighters in Turkey who wanted to join Isis, before they crossed into Jordan or Syria, the agency quoted him as saying.
I agreed to that because I thought that Canada did not support terrorism and that this information would get out into the world that way â€¦ I took the IDs of foreign fighters that I met at Istanbul airport with the excuse that I would buy [bus] tickets with them, photographed them and sent this information to the Canadian embassy people.
The man is currently being held in a prison in Sanliurfa, south-east Turkey, according to the news agency. Police are said to have found in his possession a laptop containing photographs of foreign passports, including those of the three British girls, as well as other foreign passports and bank payment slips.