Relatives “distraught” as a group went missing following a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia

June 16, 2015 | by | 0 Comments

New pictures have emerged of the missing family of 12 feared to be in Syria showing an apparently normal family in a series of happy snaps.

Zaynab Iqbal, Ismaeel Iqbal and Mariya Iqbal at Heathrow Airport (SWNS)

Zaynab Iqbal, Ismaeel Iqbal and Mariya Iqbal at Heathrow Airport (SWNS)

The Dawood family are pictured smiling at a playground, playing in rowing boats and digging in the garden.

They also show the grinning children standing alongside trolleys of luggage at an airport – believed to be just before they made their fateful journey in May.

Meanwhile Bradford West MP Naz Shah told how the husbands of Khadija Dawood, 30, Sugra Dawood, 34, and Zohra Dawood, 33, are “worried out of their minds”.

She told the BBC: “I asked them if there was any indication and they said absolutely not – it was a shock to them, it came out of the blue.

“The men are very, very distraught. They are confused and did not know what was happening or why it was happening.

“At this time there is no contact, absolutely zero contact with the women or children. The last contact was a few days ago when they were due to leave.”

The terraced home in Bradford, West Yorks., where the Dawood family are believed to have lived with their father Muhammad was apparently unoccupied today (Tues).  Curtains were drawn and the door was unanswered.

Ismaeel Iqbal and Zaynab Iqbal with  male believed to be the children father (Ross Parry / SWNS)

Ismaeel Iqbal and Zaynab Iqbal with male believed to be the children father (Ross Parry / SWNS)

Local residents described a nice and courteous family who didn’t regularly interact with their neighbours.

Samina Begum said: “They didn’t speak to anyone really and were a really close-knit family.

“I think they didn’t really want to interact.”

Desmond Fernandez said: “It’s not something that you would expect to happen on your street.

“They were a normal family. They seemed like a close family.”

Zaynab Iqbal, Ismaeel Iqbal with two unknown children on a rowing boat (Ross Parry / SWNS)

Zaynab Iqbal, Ismaeel Iqbal with two unknown children on a rowing boat (Ross Parry / SWNS)

Moqhtar Hussain said: “When they went out the women were dressed in a full veil or a burka.

“We are all Muslims down here but they didn’t want to interact as they were from a different sect.

“They were very reserved. I didn’t see much of the kids. They were never out in the street.

“It is hard to believe women going to Mecca on their own. As far as I know they can’t go on their own.

“I don’t see how they would have afforded to take a group of that size without some help from somewhere.”

Another resident, who asked not to be named, said: “It could be possible that they have gone out their to try and bring their brother back.

“The most logical reason is they are trying to talk sense into their brother.”

The Dawood sisters, and their nine children aged between three and 15, have not made contact for a week following a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.

It is believed their brother – named locally as Mohammed Ali Dawood – went to Syria a few years ago, and has not returned.

The group were supposed to fly to Manchester following their pilgrimage but the fathers reported them missing when they did not return, Ms Shah said.

The children are believed to have boarded a flight with their mothers from Medina in Saudi Arabia to Istanbul in Turkey – a commonly used route into Syria- on 9 June.

West Yorkshire Police has contacted the Turkish authorities but there have been no sightings or contacts made in Turkey.

Some of the missing family members - Mariya Iqbal (top left), Zaynab Iqbal (bottom left), Muhammad Haseeb (top right), Ismaeel Iqbal (mid right) and Khadiga Bibi Dawood mother of Muhammad Haseeb and Maryam Siddiqui (bottom rigt)  (Ross Parry / SWNS)

Some of the missing family members – Mariya Iqbal (top left), Zaynab Iqbal (bottom left), Muhammad Haseeb (top right), Ismaeel Iqbal (mid right) and Khadiga Bibi Dawood mother of Muhammad Haseeb and Maryam Siddiqui (bottom rigt) (Ross Parry / SWNS)

The force said it was supporting the family and working “extensively with authorities overseas to try and locate them”.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “We are in contact with West Yorkshire Police and Turkish authorities and are ready to provide consular assistance.”

Meanwhile, a local Muslim leader has hit out at the “sophisticated social media campaign” operated by extremist recruiters, who he compared to paedophile groomers.

Qari Asim, an imam at the Makkah Mosque in Leeds, West Yorks., urged people to “reclaim the cyberspace” from Isis offering a “romantic, utopian world” to potential recruits.

Junaid Ahmed Iqbal, Ibrahim Iqbal, Zaynab Iqbal at Heathrow Airport (Ross Parry / SWNS)

Junaid Ahmed Iqbal, Ibrahim Iqbal, Zaynab Iqbal at Heathrow Airport (Ross Parry / SWNS)

He said: “Isis have been running a very sophisticated social media campaign in order to showcase a romantic, utopian world that they are establishing in Iraq.

“We need to really up our game, reclaim some of the cyberspace and that’s what Imams Online are doing, imams from across the country have come together to really reclaim some of that space online by showcasing the true reality of Isis and also really sending a positive message about the true teachings of Islam.”

However, Mr Asim said radicalisation was not isolated to the internet.

He said: “The majority of radicalisation and brainwashing takes place online but I think it would be wrong to say actually it doesn’t take place offline

because it’s pretty much like paedophiles, they will use all sorts of opportunities to their avail to groom people.”

West Yorkshire Police have confirmed that the North East Counter Terrorism Unit is now leading the investigation into the missing Dawood family from Bradford.

A statement posted on the police website read: The North East CTU has wide experience of dealing with such enquiries and has effective liaison with partners nationally such as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and internationally with authorities and law enforcement agencies overseas.

Although the North East CTU are keeping an open mind there are lines of enquiry being progressed with the Turkish authorities and the possibility of the family attempting to travel to Syria is being explored.

A primary concern is the safety and welfare of the young children and the safe return of the family.  As this is a live investigation we are unable to comment further.

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