ISIS: Can a 15-year-old girl fly abroad alone?

2015-04-06 22:52
Islamic State. (File, AP)

Islamic State. (File, AP)

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Cape Town - Following news that a 15-year-old girl was taken off a British Airways flight in Cape Town after a failed attempt to join ISIS, News24 made enquiries at the airline's OR Tambo office to find out just what is required for a minor to fly alone.

On Monday, State Security Minister David Mahlobo confirmed that a Cape Town teen who ran away from home to join the Islamic State was taken off a British Airways flight about to leave the city.

Her relatives contacted authorities after she disappeared from her parent’s home on Sunday morning.

While the girl has now been returned safely to her family, the suspicious circumstances surrounding her attempt to board a plane destined for Saudi Arabia at Cape Town International Airport has begged many questions.

News24 on Monday asked the British Airways reservations office at OR Tambo International just what was required for a minor to purchase an international ticket on his or her own.


The first question that came to mind was: does a teenager need a legal guardian to buy an international ticket?

“No, it doesn’t have to be a legal guardian, but it must be someone responsible,” the reservations officer on the other line said.

“That person would have to present the necessary forms and sign on behalf of the minor, as well as give details of a responsible adult who will collect the minor at the destination.

“They’d then need to pay a fee of $150.”

When asked if a responsible adult had to be physically present in order to purchase the ticket, the reservations officer said:

“Yes. A child between the ages of 5 and 12 would need an adult to travel with them, but a minor older than that would just need a responsible adult to check them in.”

Visa requirements

A visa, according to the reservations officer, would also have to be presented, but depends on the country of destination, as different countries have varying laws regarding visa requirements.

News24 spoke to Crime Line’s Yusuf Abramjee, one of the people the family approached for help, who confirmed the 15-year-old’s ticket was destined for Saudi Arabia, but could not confirm if the Saudi nation was the flight’s final destination, or just a layover point.

According to the Worldwide Visa Bureau, applicants from all countries require a visa to enter Saudi Arabia, with the exception of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE.

Transit passengers, however, do not require a visa, as long as they travel on the same or first connecting flight within 18 hours of landing, and do not leave the airport.

Trying to join ISIS

Earlier on Monday, State Security Minister David Mahlobo said there would be a thorough debriefing so as to “understand the psyche of the child”, News24 reported.

“The girl over the past period has been actually using technology, the social platforms, interacting with strange people and reading some material that suggested that she is actually getting an interest to join the terror group called ISIS,” Mahlobo told broadcaster eNCA on Monday.

According to Crime Line's Abramjee, documents were found in the girl’s room suggesting the group had recruited her.

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.”

Read more on:    isis  |  cape town  |  security

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