South African authorities have arrested a teenage girl, who was planning to leave the country with the intention of joining the ranks of the ISIL Takfiri militant group in Syria.
The unnamed 15-year-old girl was intercepted at Cape Town Airport on Sunday, according to a Tuesday report published by the local English-language newspaper, The Star.
The report added that the teenager was found in the business class section of a British Airways flight for Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport.
The girl had reportedly been planning to fly to Turkey before travelling by road to join ISIL in Syria. Relatives and friends noted that she had become increasingly politicized in the past month.
The teenager’s family initially alerted the police upon realizing that the girl had disappeared. The police then informed intelligence officials, who later notified Minister of State Security David Mahlobo.
“We alerted officials at all airports immediately. If we had not been notified in time, she would have left the country. I have spoken to her father and grandfather, who are relieved that she has been found,” Mahlobo said, adding, “We can confirm that she was planning to leave the country with the intention of joining ISIL, and had been actively engaged with social media networks.”
The young girl has been released back into the care of her family after being questioned.
South Africa’s State Security Ministry said in a statement that it is investigating whether the ISIL has a recruitment network in the country.
This file photo shows female members of the ISIL Takfiri militant group at an undisclosed location in Syria.
ISIL has been recruiting female teens from around the world to join its ranks in Syria and Iraq through an online campaign. Female ISIL recruiters use social media forums such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
The Takfiri terrorist group, with members from several Western countries including Canada, France and Germany, controls parts of Syria and Iraq, and has been carrying out horrific acts of violence such as public decapitations and crucifixions against all communities such as Shias, Sunnis, Kurds, and Christians.