On Friday, two Somali sisters in suburban Denver told their father that they were too ill to go to school so they were going to stay home. By mid-morning, they called their father at work and said that they wanted to go to the library.
The father told authorities he didn’t see his daughters again until they were returned on Monday after they and a friend were stopped at an airport in Germany, according to sheriff’s reports.
On Wednesday, the sisters were at home with their family in unincorporated Arapahoe County, said Bureau Chief Glenn Thompson of the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office. None of the girls will face any local charges, he told the Los Angeles Times.
The three girls were apparently en route to Turkey and eventually to Syria where they were possibly seeking to aid the radical Muslim group Islamic State, according to a U.S. official interviewed by the Associated Press. Officials said they are continuing to investigate the circumstances of the runaways.
Records posted online from the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office paint a picture of two teenage girls who were reported missing, then travel abroad where they walk around the airport in Frankfurt and are returned to their parents.
When asked by officials why they stole $2,000 and flew to Germany, the sisters would say only a single word: “Family,” according to sheriff’s documents.
The case began on Friday when the two sisters, 17 and 15, and another girl, 16, were reported as runaways. According to the Denver Post, the sisters were of Somali descent and their friend is of Sudanese descent.
According to the sheriff’s report, authorities responded at about 6:30 p.m. on Friday to a call about missing children. The call was placed by Ali Farah, identified as the father of the girls.
Farah tells police that his daughters said they were ill and did not want to go to school that day. They called him about going to the library.
When Farah returned home in the evening, his daughters were gone, according to the report. The parents of one of his daughter’s friends came over to the house and said that their daughter was also missing.
Farah said he checked and found that his daughters’ passports were missing along with $2,000.
“The girls explained that they stole $2,000 and their passports from their mother,” according to the report of the interview with the girls after they were returned to Colorado. The sisters went to Denver International Airport “with another unidentified friend of theirs and flew to Germany. They arrived in Germany and stayed in the airport for an entire day.”
The report said police in the Frankfurt airport detained the girls, then put them on a plane back to Denver, where they were met by FBI agents.
“They were all underage, and fortunately we were able to assist in finding them,” said a senior FBI official, speaking to the Los Angeles Times on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing. “We’re not sure yet who was influencing whom, or why. But they are all safe.”
When a sheriff’s deputy on Monday went to their home to check on the girls, the deputy found them asleep in their bedroom. Their mother woke them up to speak to the deputy, the report said.
“I asked them why they went to Germany, and they said, ‘Family,’ and would not elaborate on any other details about their trip,” the deputy wrote in the report.
The news of the three teens comes just months after Shannon Maureen Conley, 19, of Arvada, a Denver suburb, was arrested at the Denver airport as she was about to embark and try to join the Islamic State militants. Conley pleaded guilty to a charge of providing material support to Al Qaeda and affiliates, including the Islamic State.
Conley is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 23, when she faces up to five years in a federal prison and a $250,000 fine.
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