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The government and the police have made a direct plea to the travel industry to help identify young people who may be intending to travel abroad to join terrorist groups such as Islamic State.
A document, issued via Abta to all its members today, describes the travel industry as a “key partner” in its efforts to deter people travelling for extremist purposes and issues guidance to the trade to help recognise vulnerable travellers.
The news comes two days after it was revealed during a House of Commons’ Home Office Select Committee that the three schoolgirls who fled to Syria to join IS last month booked their flights through a travel agency.
In the national counter terrorism document, it states: “It is known that many young men and women have already travelled to Syria through UK ports. We need your support to identify others who may seek to follow them by using this guidance for identifying vulnerable people.
“If you think someone of concern has already left the country we still want to know about it so that we can work with foreign authorities to secure the young person’s safety and to stop their onward travel.”
It adds: “The travel industry is a key partner in our efforts to detect and deter people from travelling for extremist purposes. Your actions could help to safe lives.”
Travellers may be nervous or react adversely to be approached but travel companies should ask the same questions that they ask all clients, it says.
The document gives several indicators of vulnerable travellers for travel companies to look out for:
- Travellers aged 13 to 17
- Travelling alone or with people of a similar age
- Travelling without their parents
- Booked to disembark at an airport in Turkey
- Not a regular traveller to Turkey
- Recently booked for travel, within four weeks of departure
- Be a British citizen or UK resident
- Possibly travelling on someone else’s passport
- Taking direct or indirect routes to Turkey
- Trying not to stand out from the crowd
Abta members are urged to share the document with staff across their organisations “especially those whose roles might help to identify young, vulnerable travellers to Syria or other conflict zones” and report any concerns to the police or Border Force.
“If anything seems suspicious to you then trust your instincts and report it,” it states.
Information from the industry will be treated in confidence.
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