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Police Fear Jihad Girls Held By Radicals In Turkey

Advocates of Jihad have been accused of manipulating the social media accounts of two teenage girls from Austria to make it seem as if they were fighting in the holy war in Syria.

School friends of Samra, 16, and her friend Sabina, 15, confirmed that they had become radicalised after attending a local mosque and learning last summer about the duty of every Muslim to take part in the holy war.

They confirmed that the two girls had run into difficulties at school, talking to fellow pupils about Jihad.

The head of their school in the Austrian capital Vienna, Peter Slanar, said: "I would have said a year ago that they were perfectly normal teenage girls, but then the older, Samra, started sending pictures of herself in the Muslim headscarf to fellow pupils and was trying to convert everybody to her point of view. They were vandalism incidents in which tables and walls had the words "I love Al Qaeda" written on them.

"We had to act when they started saying that America was to blame for the September 11 attack. That was simply going too far. When there were several attempts at intervention that didn't bring a result, we invited Samra's mother for a conversation and she was very annoyed about what her daughter was doing, and took her out of the school in January."

That culminated with the pair taking their passports and leaving the country, travelling to Turkey where they later posted messages together with photographs claiming that they were on the front line and fighting with their new husbands as part of the Jihad.

But the pictures were quickly shown to be a fake and now Interpol working together with police in Turkey and Austria say that they have managed to confirm that the girls are not in Syria, and are in fact still in Turkey. They believe that whoever helped them to leave the country are manipulating their social media accounts to turn them into pin-up girls for the call to join in the Holy War.

The fact that they are still in Turkey was revealed after it turned out that one of the girls, Samra, had called her sister from a telephone that was traced to a landline based in Turkey. Police were not prepared to say more for fear of jeopardising the mission to find the pair. She told her sister simply: "Don't worry about me, greetings to everyone."

The first their parents knew that the teenagers had even gone was when they started getting messages posted on social media networks saying that they had gone to fight in Syria. The family said right from the start that they did not believe the messages were written by the girls, and authorities suspect that the impressionable teenagers had been tricked into leaving the country.

They come from Bosnian refugee families who settled in Austria after the ethnic wars of the 1990's and were born in the Alpine Republic. The faked photos on their Facebook pages show them brandishing Kalashnikov rifles – and in some cases surrounded by armed men. It also showed them announcing their marriage plans so that they could become holy warriors and added: "Death is our goal".

In Vienna the family admitted that the two had started going to a local mosque last year run by a radical Imam, Ebu Tejma. They were close friends, and lived together in the same block of flats in Vienna's Favoriten district.

Austrian Interior Ministry spokesman Karl-Heinz Grundboeck said that the girls were some of hundreds from the West who had made their way there. He said: "These were people that did not become extremists from nowhere, somebody was responsible."

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