A medical student with links to Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital has been “brainwashed” into travelling to Syria by Islamic extremists, according to the town’s MP.
It emerged on Monday that Lena Mamoun Abdel-Gadir, 19, who is one of nine medical students to have gone to the war-torn area, is the daughter of a surgeon at the Gayton Road site.
The exact whereabouts of the group, who were all studying at the Khartoum Medical School, remain unknown.
However, a Turkish politician who is supporting the students’ families has suggested they are in an area controlled by Islamic State militants.
North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham said Foreign Office staff were doing “all they can” to support the families, who are still in neighbouring Turkey.
Earlier this week, he revealed he had asked the foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, to provide consular assistance.
He said that while he had not heard from Lena’s family directly, he believed they may have contacted other relatives.
He added: “It’s a very sad situation. This girl really couldn’t have been given more in life.
“They sent her to Khartoum to get a really good, balanced medical training.
“They didn’t know she was going to be hoodwinked and brainwashed.”
Lena is known to have sent a Whatsapp message to her sister two weeks ago to say that she and her fellow students were about to cross the Turkish-Syrian border to volunteer to treat injured people.
But it is feared that the group actually travelled there to support the extremist organisation, which controls large areas of both Syria and Iraq.
National newspaper reports have also suggested that Lena used a Twitter account to praise those responsible for the terrorist attack on the office of the French magazine Charlie Hebdo in January, in which 11 people were killed.
The account, the identity of whose author has not been verified, also contains comments which appeared to call for the implementation of Islamic Sharia law and a claim that former friends had ceased contact with the author because they had become “too Muslim.”
The post then concluded: “You haven’t seen the half of it.”
Mr Bellingham, a former Foreign Office minister, said it was possible that people working in field hospitals in Syria could be supplying information to western intelligence services that could help to establish exactly where Lena and her fellow students are.
But he warned it could be “a long haul” for any groups that tried to get the group out of the conflict zone.
“The difficulty and challenge is IS, having got them there, will not want them to leave and the history is when people do try to leave, they get dealt with very severely.”
He added: “Our hearts and prayers go to the family who are a hugely respected family and have done a lot for this community.”