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Couple 'tricked' into Syria journey

Published 09/07/2015

Family members have been urged to return to the UK
Family members have been urged to return to the UK

Two grandparents believed to be in Syria with 10 relatives are being held by Islamic State against their will, their son has claimed.

Muhammed Abdul Mannan, 75, and his wife are the oldest members of a family of 12 from Luton who were reported missing after failing to return from holiday in Bangladesh.

Last week a statement said to have been sent by a British member of IS to media, purportedly on behalf of the group, said they have joined the extremist group and feel "safer than ever".

However a family member in the UK has suggested some of the group are being held against their will and claimed the older couple were "tricked" into going to Syria.

Mr Mannan's son Shalim Hussain told ITV: "My dad is a very old man. He's 75. He's poorly. He doesn't need this. He doesn't want to be in that country. I know.

"Everybody knows. It's not him. It's not him. He never would have gone to that country unless someone tricked him into it.

"He would never have made that statement. It's not him. It's definitely not him. My dad is confused, sad, crying every day, upset, not in peace. Where he is at the moment. He's not sleeping properly.

All he is thinking about is our family. And us as well. He is very confused and he can't imagine how he ended up in that place, that position. Mum is the same. How did they get there?

"It doesn't make sense. These women with kids, children. It's a war zone going on in this country. Why are they taking their children there? It's not safe. We're confused. I don't understand."

He said his father had described in phone calls home how he was bundled into a van by a group of men and separated from his family in Istanbul.

Mr Hussain said: "They were supposed to stay two days and then come back to England.

"On the second night, some people came to the hotel. We don't know who exactly. They were taking them downstairs, separately, not in groups, and at the last moment my parents were confused, 'where are you taking my family, where are you taking my children?'

"They were told 'don't worry, go back to England.' Once they said that, they started crying and said 'what are you taking about?' They were crying and said 'I want my family back. . I want my family my children, my kids'.

"They begged and begged and they said 'OK come with us'. Once they'd taken them outside there were two cars and they drove them away."

He said he felt "lost", speaking of his anguish that the six-bedroom family home is now empty.

He added: " I want them back safely. Please come back. I can't describe how bad I'm feeling. We're missing you so badly. All of you. Especially my dad who is 75 years old. My mum, who is very poorly and has cancer. It's such a bad feeling I can't describe. Like someone's emptying my heart.

"We all miss them. My brothers and sisters who are here, we are all lost without them."

Mr Hussain added that he had seen no signs of radicalisation prior to the group's disappearance.

The party initially travelled to Bangladesh from Heathrow via Istanbul on April 10, before flying back to the Turkish city on May 11.

They were due to come back to London three days later but failed to return and were reported missing by a relative on May 17.

Mr Mannan and his wife Minera Khatun, 53, are missing, with their daughter Ms Khanom, and sons Mohammed Zayd Hussain, 25, Mohammed Toufique Hussain, 19, Mohammed Abil Kashem Saker, 31, and Mohammed Saleh Hussain, 26.

Three unnamed children aged between one and 11 are with the group, as are Mohammed Abil Kashem Saker's wife Sheida Khanam, 27, and Mohammed Saleh Hussain's wife Roshanara Begum, 24.

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