The battle against the so-called Islamic State terrorist group (also known as ISIL or ISIS), rages on. And so, apparently, does the allure for teenage girls of joining the group. The latest attempt took place in a Denver suburb, when three high schoolers recently skipped class and booked tickets to Syria in an attempt to gain membership into the shadowy organization that is fighting for land in Iraq and Syria.
According to CNN, Denver dad Assad Ibrahim suspected something was wrong when his daughter's Denver-area school called to let him know she was not in class. When he reached her, she said she was just late for class, not on her way to Syria to join the terrorist group. So, the local sheriff's office filed a runaway report for the teen of Sudanese descent.
She was on the run with two girls of Somali descent who joined her on a flight to Turkey via Germany, while telling their father that they were just headed to the library. When Ibrahim called the two girls' father, Ali Farah, he was informed that he should check to see if his daughters' passports were missing. They were, along with $2,000 in cash.
The FBI gets involved
The families contacted the FBI, which put a notice on all three girls' passports, which allowed authorities in Germany to intercept the 15- and 17-year-old sisters and their 16-year-old friend at Frankfurt airport and put them on a plane back to the U.S. They were met there by FBI agents, who questioned and then released them after the girls revealed their plans to join Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria.
All three girls' parents said their daughters had never tried to run away before and they had no idea about the plot beforehand. So far, more than 100 foreign fighters from the U.S. have joined ISIS, as well as hundreds from Europe, according to intelligence estimates. Thanks to the group's savvy use of social media, it is attracting more and more teens and young people from around the globe.
Checking emails and Facebook for clues
It sounds like the 17-year-old in Denver hatched the plan about two months ago, with all three doing research online and visiting extremist chat sites for tips on how to get to Syria. Somehow, their activity didn't set off any alarms with the FBI, who is always on the search for potential jihadist sympathizers.
Now the feds are poring over all the girls' communications to see if anyone was helping them, since their parents think ISIS was behind the plot. It doesn't sound like the plan will lead to any charges for the teens, though.