'Brainwashed' foreign medical students went to Syria, Turkish lawmaker says

nr karadsheh report american one of medical students in syria_00005102
nr karadsheh report american one of medical students in syria_00005102

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Story highlights

  • Families say the doctors and students went to Turkey to help refugees
  • "They have been cheated, brainwashed," parliamentarian Mehmet Ali Ediboglu says
  • The group is made up of Britons, Sudanese, an American and a Canadian

(CNN)Once again, the lure of ISIS may have ensnared another group of foreigners -- this time, medical students suspected of traveling to Syria to work in ISIS-controlled hospitals.

The group of 11 people includes seven Britons, an American, a Canadian and two Sudanese, Turkish lawmaker Mehmet Ali Ediboglu told CNN on Sunday.
    Ediboglu, an opposition 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."
    In a joint statement, the students' and doctors' families said their children are humanitarians who went "to Turkey willingly to offer voluntary medical help to those refugees who are in need of medical care on Turkey's borders."
    They have since "disappeared," the statement said.
    "We have heard from the British, Turkish and Sudanese authorities that we have so far met, but we hope that the respectable governments of these countries would enforce, speed up and coordinate more effective measures to ensure the safety of our children wherever they are and bring them back to us as soon as possible," the statement said.
    Eight of the group are medical students who've just graduated, and the three others are in their final year of medical school, he said. They'd been studying in Khartoum, Sudan.
    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 start a journey to an ISIS camp, where she hoped to be a nurse.