UK

Police appeal to 'Syria-bound' Slough family

Clockwise: Asif Malik, 31, Sara Kiran, 29, their daughter Zoha, seven, and three sons Essa, four, Zakariya, two, and Yhaya, one Image copyright Thames Valley Police

A missing UK family of six could already be in Syria, police have said.

Asif Malik, 31, Sara Kiran, 29, their daughter Zoha, seven, and three sons Essa, four, Zakariya, two, and Yhaya, one, were last seen on 7 April.

Police said online rhetoric from Islamic State (IS), the family's direction of travel and concerns voiced by relatives made officers "concerned" that they were heading for Syria.

In a statement, Mr Malik's family said they were "heartbroken".

Direct plea

"With the reality that our loved one Asif Malik and his family have left the UK without any notice, our lives have been completely devastated," they said.

"We are totally distraught, upset and in shock. The greatest sadness is the decision by Asif and Sara to travel with their young family, such beautiful children."

In a direct plea to Mr Malik, the family added: "Please Asif, we ask you to think about what has happened and the decisions you have made. Please can you ring us or send us a message to let us know that you and the children are well."

The family, from Slough in Berkshire, were reported missing on 16 April.

Image copyright Thames Valley Police
Image caption Police said the family boarded a ferry from Dover to Calais on 8 April
Image copyright Thames Valley Police
Image caption CCTV images of the family have been released by police

'No trace'

They left Slough without mentioning any travel plans to relatives and boarded a ferry from Dover to Calais at 00:30 BST on 8 April, police said.

Officers believe they travelled through Europe, possibly by train, and passed through Budapest, Hungary, on or around 12 April.

There has been "no trace" of the family since then, police added.

A police spokesman earlier said there was "no suggestion [the family] were doing any fighting" in Syria, and added that he was unable to confirm whether they were sympathetic to any group fighting in the country.

BBC home affairs correspondent Daniel Sandford said it had become clear that Mr Malik had regularly attended demonstrations led by the radical preacher Anjem Choudary.

"He was part of that group around Anjem Choudary and Anjem Choudary himself has confirmed to me that he did know Asif Malik," our correspondent added.

Mr Choudary is the former UK head of the Islamist group al-Muhajiroun or Islam4UK, which was banned in 2010.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionPolice at a news conference appealed for the family to get in touch

At a Thames Valley Police press conference on Sunday, acting Deputy Chief Constable John Campbell stressed police were conducting a missing persons inquiry - not a criminal investigation.

He also said there was nothing to suggest Mr Malik and Ms Kiran were anything other than loving parents.

Mr Campbell said the "general direction" of the family's travel was towards Turkey, and there was "a concern" that they may already be in Syria.

"We hope we will be disproved on that," he said.

He confirmed UK police had been in touch with Turkish authorities and the family were travelling on British passports.

'Extremely dangerous place'

"We are concerned about anyone who has or is intending to travel to the part of Syria that is controlled by the terrorist group calling themselves Islamic State.

"It is an extremely dangerous place and not a place where young children should be taken," he said.

Image copyright Thames Valley Police
Image caption The family are travelling on British passports, police said
Image copyright Thames Valley Police
Image caption Police said they did not inform their relatives of their plan to travel

Related Topics

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites