DENVER (CBS4) – Three Colorado teenage girls are back home with their families after flying overseas allegedly in an effort to join the terror group ISIS.
The girls are between the ages of 15 and 17 and an acquaintance of their families says they attend Overland High School in Aurora.
As their cross-continent trip makes national headlines, the head of the Colorado Muslim Council says the news comes as a surprise.
“I was shocked because, according to our prediction we thought that the boys were easy targets. To our surprise the girls were easy targets,” council chairman Hafedh Ferjani told CBS4.
Ferjani said the families of the girls met with their community leaders at the council this week. He said he hopes the parents, who originally reported the girls as runaways, will convince them not to try something similar again.
“I’m hoping that the parents will do their share and talk to their kids,” he said.
Overland High School is in the Cherry Creek School District.
Officials with the district said they had no comment about the situation, but did release a statement:
“There are predators online of all sorts — recruiting students of all pursuasions. We strongly urge parents to monitor how students are using their computers.”
The FBI says the girls’ families tipped them off to their actions first with a report to the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s office last Friday.
The girls allegedly had skipped school and took off with cash they had stolen from their parents and passports.
They flew out of Denver International Airport, through Chicago and on to Germany. They were stopped at the Frankfurt airport before they could fly on to Turkey. There they were briefly questioned, and then placed on a return flight to the United States.
Law enforcement officials say there are indications the teens were planning to travel to Syria, where they ultimately hoped to link up with radical Islamic fighters who have been fighting battles in Syria and Iraq.
The FBI has released few details about the girls’ plans. It’s not clear how long they planned to be gone. The girls also told their parents they were leaving to study in Turkey.
Sources told CBS News they were influenced by terror propoganda but not completely radicalized.
Two of the teens, sisters ages 15 and 17, were of Somali descent. The other girl was of Sudanese descent.
The Associated Press reported that the girls’ computers will be reviewed as investigators study evidence in the case.
The teens are unlikely to face criminal charges, CBS News reported.
In April, Shannon Conley, 19, was arrested at DIA. The Arvada teen was trying to get into Syria after meeting an ISIS fighter online. She pleaded guilty after federal investigators learned she had tried to join terrorists multiple times.
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