Cape Town teen who tried to join ISIS an ordinary student – principal

2015-04-08 15:25
Islamic State. (File, AP)

Islamic State. (File, AP)

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Cape Town - The 15-year-old Cape Town girl who allegedly tried to join terror group ISIS this week exhibited no behaviour out of the ordinary, her school principal said.

The principal, who could not be named in order to protect the identity of the child, said the student showed no strange behaviour that would have suggested something was wrong.

“She is as ordinary and exceptional as anybody else,” he told News24 on Wednesday.

“There is nothing untoward about her and there was nothing that would have given us any cause for concern.

“There is obviously shock and major surprise. The fact that we know her and it's being reported in the media adds to that element of shock, and just a sense of reflection, should we have seen this etc.

“But there has also been an overwhelming concern for her wellbeing over what she’s going through.”

He said that despite much hearsay and rumours in the media, the school had received no official complaints from any teachers or fellow students about the 15-year-old’s behaviour.

 “She had a normal circle of friends, she interacted with great respect and dignity toward the staff and did not shy away from expressing opinions,” he continued.

“The wellbeing of children is paramount [at the school]. People are allowed to express who they are as individuals. In that sense we didn’t see her in a social position that alienated her from others.”

Care and concern

The principal also told News24 that while there was shock surrounding the revelations, the school was determined to provide the necessary care for the teen, as well as provide any support to the wider student body at the school.

“There’s a sense of family and a sense of belonging; that is the type of school we are. So coupled with the element of shock and surprise, there’s a big element of care and concern," he continued.

He stated that the school, attended by approximately 330 students, would be addressing the issue in a transparent manner to the rest of the student body and parents.

“Very definitely, we will speak about it openly to our students, and we will offer counselling to the extent that we possibly can,” he added.

 “[And] not just to the student population, but to parents as well. The nature of the school is to be as inclusive and supportive as possible.”

Pulled off flight

On Monday, State Security Minister David Mahlobo confirmed that a Cape Town teen who ran away from home to join ISIS was taken off a British Airways flight destined for Saudi Arabia.

Her relatives contacted authorities after she disappeared from her parent’s home on Sunday morning, noticing the girl had become increasingly political over the last month, even confiding in her friends that she would be joining the militant group.

State Security was also investigating how the girl was able to get money for the airfare, Mahlobo added.

“But we are just doing a lot... in terms of investigation to see how did she get recruited so that she could leave the country, how the funding in terms of the airfare was being arranged, so that we can be able to get to the bottom of this.”

The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) of South Africa, meanwhile, believes that the incident is “an exception”.

Nabeweya Malick, MJC spokesperson, said: “We are all shocked, but believe this case is an exception.

"With the influence of technology and the cyber world our children are constantly connected to, we are very concerned that young people, unfortunately, see ISIS members as some sort of heroes."

Read more on:    isis  |  cape town  |  security

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