A missing family of seven are believed to have travelled to Turkey en route to Syria, police have confirmed.
Married couple Imran, 39, and Farzana Ameen, 40, and their five children, aged five to 15, were reported missing earlier on Tuesday, West Yorkshire Police said.
Officers said the family were seen last Monday, on October 5, and are believed to have travelled to Turkey – though their “current whereabouts are unknown”.
The children’s welfare was the “primary concern”, police said.
Meanwhile, Farzana’s cousin revealed he was “totally shocked” at what had happened.
He also told how members of the family in Pakistan had heard from Farzana yesterday (Tues), who text to say she was doing “what was best” for her children.
It is believed the family previously told friends Imran had a new job in Sharjah.
A few weeks ago, Farzana took her mother – who is believed to suffer from Alzheimers and was cared for by her daughter – to Pakistan, telling friends she would get her mother settled.
She then returned to the UK before the family left the country together.
But Farzana’s cousin Arshid Siddique told how none of the family said goodbye before they fled.
The family‘s home in Bradford, West Yorks., was deserted and dark this morning (WED).
The curtains at the semi-detached home were pulled shut and there were no sign of lights.
Though the back window a cleaned out freezer with the door open is visible.
Farzama’s first cousin Arshid Siddique, who lives just over the road from the Ameens in Bradford, West Yorks., said he was “totally shocked” that they might have gone to Turkey.
Speaking this morning (WED) Arshid said: “I can’t believe anyone in their right mind would take their kids to a warzone.
“I’m sympathetic but I wouldn’t take my kids there.”
He said he had seen a lot of police cars on the streets and that’s when he knew something wasn’t right.
“It’s a terrible shock, Imran himself has a little online business selling car parts, a quiet guy. A nicer guy you could not meet.
“Farzana, we’re looking after her mother [believed to suffer from Alzheimer’s] in the next door house, she was unfortunately bedridden.
“I think a couple of weeks ago they went to Pakistan, her and my aunts, dropped her mother off on Pakistan and came back and I saw her the day before she is going.
“Imran told me he had a job offer in Sharjah.
“The strange thing was you never saw anyone before they went, never said good bye.
“There is my sister up the road who Farzana is close with, my aunty down the road, she didn’t say bye to anybody.
“Even this morning [Wed] I just spoke to her brother in Pakistan and he was unaware.
“Yesterday [Tues] I told him, this is what is happening on the street and his sister is obviously missing.
“So he found out yesterday and he didn’t want to believe it.
“I spoke to him about 10 or 15 mins ago and he doesn’t know where they are.
“She has spoken to him and sent him messages and apparently last message said whatever she is doing she is doing for the best of the kids.
“That was yesterday she was in touch with her brother in Pakistan.
“It is a terrific shock.
“This is totally out of the blue to us. She was looking after her mother day and night so you never expect her to jump ship and leave her mum.”
Arshid added that she then took her mum to Pakistan and the last thing she said was she would be back in two weeks when she had settled.
He adds: “So obviously that was just to put us off the scent.”
Arshid described how, on Monday there was a lot of unmarked police cars on the street and after it was dark officers went into the house and took computers and bags out.
He said Farzana was originally born in Leeds, West Yorks., and described the married couple as “a nicer couple you could not meet”.
“This is something you would never expect ever.”
Arshid said the five children go to neaby St Matthews Primary School while the daughter, believed to be called Isma, went to Bradford Academy.
Farzana is believed to have two brothers, one who passed away when she was young and the other lives in Pakistan.
Imran’s parents are believed to live next door to their son. His father is believed to be a barrister.
Meanwhile, police said officers were “working with relatives who are still in the UK” and that “lines of enquiry are currently being progressed with the Turkish authorities”.
Assistant Chief Constable Russ Foster added: “We would urge anyone with information about the family‘s whereabouts to come forward and speak to police so the family can safely return to the UK.
“Any piece of information, no matter how small, could help the UK or overseas authorities to locate the family so that they can be safely returned home to their loved ones.”
Earlier this year, Khadija Dawood, 30, Sugra Dawood, 34, and Zohra Dawood, 33, also from Bradford, went missing after going on an Islamic pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia along with their nine children.
Leading Imam Qari Asim said: “Details are sketchy at the moment but if they have gone there to fight or take part it is absolutely shocking.
“And I think it also goes to show just how powerful the propaganda of IS is – that they are able to penetrate in our homes in Yorkshire, and as a result young families are travelling to Syria.”
A close friend of Farzana Ameen, who is missing with her husband Imran and five children, feared to have travelled to Turkey – has revealed the family told friends they were moving to Dubai because Imran had been offered a job in IT.
The friend, who has known Farzana for 12 years, said she was shocked by the news they might be in Turkey.
The woman, who also lives in Bradford but did not want to be named, said Farzana had de-registered her children from school recently.
The friend was unclear when Farzana had revealed this to her, but said: “I was quite shocked to be honest with you, they didn’t show any indication they were going to Turkey.”
The family told people they were moving abroad as Imran had been offered a new job – but when the friend offered to drive the family to the airport before they left the UK, the refused.
She said: “The story was, the whole family were going to Dubai because he had got a job in IT.
“They told that to everybody.
“I said I’d drop them off at the airport but she said no, we’ve hired a car and we are going to take ourselves to the airport.
“I didn’t think then.
“You know you have family here, friends, people at school, me, people coming and going.
“You would never ever think this is what is going to happen.”
The friend said the last time she spoke to Farzana was on Monday, October 5, the day before she left.
“She said she would get me a contact number and we were laughing, I said I would come and visit you.
“She did said to me they might come back, have a two week trial period.
“But now you look back on it is seems a bit fishy.
“I am worried for them now, is she going to come back?”
The friend reiterated information told earlier by Farzana’s cousin Arshid Siddique that Farzana had taken her mother to Pakistan recently, returning back to the UK alone shortly afterwards – before the family fled together.
Though not sure of exact dates, the friend thought Farzana flew to Pakistan with her sick mother on Saturday, September 26, and flew back alone on Thursday, October 1.
She sad: “They family were quite alright. She was, a bit, always reserved.
“Her husband is quite reserved, if he was there he would speak, but kept himself to himself.”
She said the family had lived in the area for 12 years or more.
“I find it quite shocking, she had a life for herself here, she had everything, she had kids, she had family,” she added.
She said Farzana – who went by the name Jani – turned 40 this year and believes her husband is about 6 months younger.