Daughter of King’s Lynn surgeon flees to Islamic State hospital in Syria - MP requests help
12:14 23 March 2015
Lena Mamoun Abdel-Gadir from King’s Lynn is one of nine British medical students who have gone to Syria to work in a hospital supporting Islamic State fighters.
North-West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham today requested urgent assistance from the Foreign Office for the family of Ms Abdel-Gadir - a medical student studying at Khartoum Medical School who travelled to a hospital in territory controlled by the brutal Islamic State (IS) in Syria.
MR Henry Bellingham said: “Lena’s fathers Dr Mamoun is a very well respected surgeon at Lynn’s hospital, and I am sure the whole community is in shock about what has happened. I know this has come as a dreadful blow to the rest of the family as it is obvious they only wanted what the very best for their daughter when they sent her to the Khartoum Medical School.
“The last thing they had expected was for her to be sent to Syria to support IS by working as a medical volunteer.
“I have asked the Foreign Secretary to provide the family, who are currently in Turkey, all the possible consular support.
“It is also incredibly important that every centre of learning, including medical schools in the Islamic world, warn students of the dangers of going to Syria. Even though they will be told that the work is purely medical, they are nonetheless being persuaded to go into an incredibly dangerous war zone.”
Some of the parents of the five men and four women, aged in their late teens and early 20s, travelled to Turkey this weekend in a bid to get them back.
The students, who reportedly flew to Istanbul from Sudan earlier this month, went to the region “to help, not to fight”, a Turkish politician assisting the families told The Observer newspaper.
Mehmet Ali Ediboglu said the students were born and raised in England, but had been studying medicine in Sudan as their families had wanted them to experience a more Islamic culture.
He told the paper he thought the students had been “cheated, brainwashed”.
He said: “Let’s not forget about the fact that they are doctors; they went there to help, not to fight. So this case is a little bit different.”
One of the women informed her family of the trip via the messenger Whatsapp, the paper reported.
Lena Maumoun Abdel-Gadir reportedly told her relatives: “Don’t worry about us, we’ve reached Turkey and are on our way to volunteer helping wounded Syrian people.”
Her father told a Turkish newspaper he had informed both British and Turkish police of the situation.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are providing consular assistance to the families. We have informed the Turkish police to try and ascertain their whereabouts.”
A Home Office spokeswoman said: “The UK advises against all travel to Syria and parts of Iraq.
“Anyone who does travel to these areas, even for humanitarian reasons, is putting themselves in considerable danger.
“The best way for the public to help is to donate to or otherwise support UK-registered charities with ongoing relief operations.”
It is understood a decision to prosecute someone who has travelled to the war-torn region would depend on the circumstances and nature of the their activity there.
Last week a judge barred five teenage girls who have shown an interest in going to Syria from travelling abroad.
In February it emerged three London schoolgirls had flown to Turkey and were believed to have crossed the border into Syria.
They attended Bethnal Green Academy, the same school as a 15-year-old who went missing in December, and is believed to have joined Islamic State.
•Do you know the family? Email email@example.com