Twin schoolgirls who followed their jihadi brother to Syria were hard-working students who hoped to train as doctors. Sixteen-year-olds Salma and Zahra Halane, who last summer achieved 28 GCSEs between them, left their parents’ home in the middle of the night and caught a flight to Turkey, before crossing the border.
Police said the pair are thought to have followed their elder brother, who ditched his own ‘excellent’ academic career to join the ISIS terror group around a year ago. Friends said the twins had appeared to be typical teenagers, pouting for selfies and shopping at Primark – but they are now feared to be training for battle.
Last night a rebel fighter boasted that he was teaching girls as young as 16 how to fight. Yilmaz, a Dutch national who has been in Syria for two years, told Sky News: ‘It’s extremely easy to get here. People go on holiday … they end up in Syria.’
The twins’ parents raised the alarm last month, after finding the girls’ beds empty and their passports and clothes missing. A former neighbour said the couple had been ‘quite strict’, and did not allow the girls to ‘mix with other children on the street’. Others recalled that the twins wore headscarves when they were as young as nine. But Rhea Headlam, who sat next to Zahra in primary school, said they were ‘just normal teenage girls’.