Nine British medics feared to be working with Islamic State

Turkish politician claims the group was 'cheated' and 'brainwashed' into offering IS their help


Nine British medical students believed to be working with Islamic State in hospitals in a militant-controlled area of Syria have been urged to return home by their families.

The four women and five men, aged in their late teens and early 20s, had been studying at a medical school in Sudan. They flew from the country's capital of Khartoum to Istanbul on 12 March and reportedly crossed the border into Syria last week.

The group kept their plans secret from relatives until 19-year-old Lena Maumoon Abdulqadir (pictured above, bottom left) sent a brief message to her sister, alerting her family of her whereabouts. In the message, Abdulqadir said she wanted to "volunteer to help wounded Syrian people".

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The others have been named as (pictured clockwise from left) Hisham Mohammed Fadlallah, Tasneem Suleyman Huseyin, Ismail Hamadoun, Nada Sami Kader, Mohamed Osama Badri Mohammed, Rowan Kamal Zine El Abidine, Tamer Ahmed Ebu Sebah and Sami Ahmed Kadir (not pictured).

Turkish opposition politician Mehmet Ali Ediboglu told The Observer that the group is likely to be in Tel Abyad, an IS-controlled border town east of Kobane. He has been speaking to the families, who travelled to Turkey in hope of bringing their children home.

"The conflict out there is fierce, so medical help must be needed," he said. "They have been cheated, brainwashed. That is what I, and their relatives, think."

He added that the case was "a little bit different" to previous examples of foreigners joining IS because the young people were medics and "went there to help, not to fight".

The nine Britons, who were studying in Sudan to experience "a more Islamic culture", are believed to be with two other medics, one American-Sudanese and one Canadian-Sudanese, says the BBC.

BBC Turkey correspondent Mark Lowen says the fear is that they may have been radicalised and recruited by IS in Sudan.

According to the Home Office, they would not automatically face prosecution if they returned to the UK if they could show that they had not been fighting.

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