'Brainwashed' foreign medical students traveled to Syria, lawmaker says

Report: American is one of the medical students in Syria
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Story highlights

  • Worried father sends message to daughter: "Please, come back"
  • Lawmaker: Med students' family members believe they wanted to work for ISIS
  • "They have been cheated, brainwashed," the Turkish lawmaker says

(CNN)A group of foreign medical students are thought to have traveled to Syria to work in ISIS-controlled hospitals, a Turkish lawmaker told CNN Sunday.

The group of 11 people includes seven Britons, an American, a Canadian and two Sudanese, Mehmet Ali Ediboglu said.
    Ediboglu, an opposition Turkish lawmaker, told The Observer that he had spoken with the students' families, who were convinced their loved ones wanted to work for ISIS and were asking him for help tracking them down in neighboring Syria.
    "They have been cheated, brainwashed. That is what I, and their relatives, think," Ediboglu said, according to the newspaper.
    But he also stressed that the group did not travel with the intention of joining the battle.
    "Let's not forget about the fact that they are doctors," he told The Observer. "They went there to help, not to fight."
    Eight of the group are medical students who've just graduated and three others are in their final year of medical school, he said. They'd been studying in Khartoum, Sudan.
    Now, at least seven of their mothers and fathers are living near the Turkey-Syria border, pleading for their return, according to The Observer.
    In an interview published Monday in Turkey's Hürriyet Daily News, the group of parents said they were worried and vowed not to leave Turkey without their children.
    Dr. Maumoon Abdulqadir said he was sending a message to his daughter, Lena, who is one of the students.
    "I know you want to help people and be of use. But you can do this in another way," he told the newspaper. "There are many who need your help. But this is not the way. Please, come back."
    British officials said they are aware of the report.
    "We are providing consular assistance to their families and we have informed the Turkish police to try and ascertain their whereabouts," the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office said in a statement.
    Officials have warned that a growing number of foreign fighters are traveling to join ISIS' ranks. Estimates about how many medical personnel the group has recruited are harder to come by.
    Last year, a 19-year-old Colorado woman was arrested at Denver International Airport as she was about to embark on a journey to an ISIS camp, where she hoped to serve as a nurse.