12 Sudanese medical students, three of them women, left Khartoum on Friday to join the combatants of Islamic State (IS) in Syria.
They are all students at the private University of Medical Sciences and Technolgy, owned by the Minister of Health of Khartoum state, Mamoun Hemeida. Ten of them hold foreign passports.
Ahmed Babiker, Dean of Student Affairs at the University, told the press in Khartoum that he received telephone calls from worried parents of the students on Friday, asking about their whereabouts. It turned out that at least five of the students had boarded an aircraft to Turkey at Khartoum Airport early that morning. Another group had left Khartoum on board a Fly Dubai flight.
The first batch was apprehended by Turkish intelligence agents, preventing their travel to Syria.
The dean further reported that the mother of one of the women students detained by the Turkish authorities, flew from London, where she is working as a medical doctor, to Istanbul, to search for her daughter. He added that another woman student who “disappeared” is the daughter of a senior official at the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In March, at least twelve students and graduates of the University of Medical Sciences and Technology left to Turkey to join the ranks of IS. They also came from wealthy Sudanese families, and travelled with their British passports.
Babiker accused “jihadist networks operating outside the university” of recruiting the students to join the ranks of the IS.