Anxiety and rumours surround missing Jordan girls

Anxiety and rumours surround missing Jordan girls
A pair of 16-year-old girls have gone missing from Jordan's capital, amid rumours and speculation they may have travelled to join the Islamic State group.
2 min read
22 June, 2015
Jordan's police have joined the search for the missing girls [Getty]

Joumana Ouwayda and Shaimaa Abdul-Hadi were last heard from on Thursday, the first day of Ramadan.

The two 16-year-olds were seen leaving an English language class near the Interior Ministry in the Jabal Hussein district of Amman. At time of writing, their fate and whereabouts remain unknown. 

The Jordanian authorities have launched intensive efforts to locate the girls, after desperate appeals for help from their families. The authorities have reportedly set up a special team bringing in both the military and general intelligence services to the search effort. 

Joumana and Shaimaa's disappearance has created widespread anxiety in both local and social media.

Some are even speculating about a jihadist connection to the conflicts in neighbouring Iraq and Syria, against a backdrop of increasing numbers of young Muslims joining gangs such as the Islamic State group.

If true, this would be a precedent in Jordan.

No young women are known to have travelled to join such militant groups in neighbouring countries, though some Jordanian women have reportedly travelled to Syria with their husbands who were fighting.

Shaimaa's father strongly denied his daughter held any "extremist tendencies". The Jordanian authorities do not seem to be considering this hypothesis yet either.

One Jordanian website has suggested a human trafficking angle to the disappearance. Citing unspecified "informed sources", speculated that the girls may have been lured away by a criminal ring via Facebook.

Security sources told local press that the search continues. They have few leads, saying that the trail goes cold after the girls were caught on CCTV cameras as they left the area.

Abdul-Hadi's father said the girls did not have mobile phones, but have social media accounts, which are now being monitored by the security services. Describing the girls as "devout", he said he had no suspicions or any explanation for their disappearance.

Joumana and Shaimaa's relatives and teachers all insist there was nothing out of the ordinary about the "very polite" and "innocent" girls. The families are naturally very distressed, and have been personally taking part in the search.

Another girl that had gone missing in Amman last week was found on Monday morning at a friend's house in the Jordanian capital.