A spy may have helped three British teenagers secretly leave the United Kingdom last month to join the Islamic State group in Syria. Turkish officials recently arrested an unnamed foreign intelligence operative in connection with the schoolgirls' disappearance, the Associated Press reported Thursday, even though his job was to work against ISIS.
"Do you know who the person who helped the girls turned out to be?" Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said in an interview with A Haber, a TV channel. "Someone who works for the intelligence service of a country that is part of the coalition. It is not an EU member, it is not the United States either."
The suspect's nationality was not released, though BBC News identified him as a man. Çavuşoğlu did not give additional details about the arrest, but an anonymous Turkish official told the Associated Press he'd been detained for the past week. A spokesman for London's Metropolitan Police Service told the Guardian it had not verified reports of the arrest.
The girls -- 15-year-old Shamima Begum, 15-year-old Abira Abase and 16-year-old Kadiza Sultana -- were allegedly radicalized by ISIS recruiters on social media. The trio stole family jewelry and sold it to pay for Feb. 17 plane tickets to Turkey, according to CNN. From there, they probably crossed into Syria.
The girls' families did not know about their plans. In fact, Shamima's sister Sahima Begum told the Associated Press she was a typical teenager. "She used to watch 'Keeping up with the Kardashians' and things like that," Begum said.
Turkey has since accused the British police of not acting and communicating quickly enough to stop the girls. When Çavuşoğlu told Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond about the suspect's arrest, "he told me 'just as usual,'" the Turk said.