The father of one of the three Bethnal Green schoolgirls who ran away to join Islamic State has said they should be allowed to return to Britain.
In a tearful interview with Sky News, Hussen Abase said “they made a mistake” and “should be forgiven” because they did not know what they were doing.
He blamed social media for luring his daughter Amira to Syria when she was just 15 years old.
“Teenagers don’t contemplate things, they can be easily tricked,” he said.
His comments come after one of the other girls in the group, Shamima Begum, said she is heavily pregnant and wants to come home for her baby’s sake – but does not regret joining IS.
A Sky News poll asking if Shamima Begum should be allowed to return to the UK found that 76% think she should not, 16% believe she should and 8% did not know.
Mr Abase said none of the girls should face charges for their actions because they were teenagers when they left the country and had not committed any crime.
He said their ages at the time of fleeing home made them “vulnerable” to be “tricked” into travelling to Syria.
Asked if he thought Shamima Begum presented a danger to British society having spent time with IS, he replied: “Not at all.”
The 52-year-old believes the three girls could be re-educated with help from the authorities.
“Twisted minds can be straightened with teamwork with the government and family,” he said.
However, he said “the public have a right to say no” to Shamima Begum returning home if she had no regrets about what she had done.
After being shown an interview of the 19-year-old from a refugee camp in northern Syria, he appeared shocked at her admission that she had seen the head of a decapitated person in a bin – and admitted she was not fazed by it.
“She saw a head in the bin?” he said.
“That makes me think twice.”
Mr Hussen said he had no idea what had happened to his daughter for he had not heard from her “for quite a long time”.
But he said hearing Shamima Begum’s story gave him hope.
He said he would “give her a hug” if he was ever reunited with her.
Shamima Begum said she had seen two of her friends a fortnight ago, but it is not clear whether Amira Abase was one of them.
:: A nationally representative sample of 1,001 Sky customers were interviewed by SMS on 14 February 2019 about Shamima Begum.
Data are weighted to the profile of the population. Sky Data is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. The results of the survey can be found here here.