A 26-year-old man abducted three children from foster home only days before they were scheduled to be adopted by a new family.
Imran Safi reportedly kidnapped his three children, Yaseen, 3, Ebrar, 5, and Bilal, 6, then ‘smuggled them out of the UK in the back of a van,’ police said.
Officers also believe the father received support from relatives who helped him smuggle his abducted children out of the UK.
According to reports, 16 people have been arrested in connection with the kidnapping, including Safi’s wife, 25-year-old Lubna.
But Safi’s brother-in-law, Ali, refuted the allegations that the family members knew of the father’s plans. He also said that he last heard from Imran Safi on the morning of the kidnapping.
In an interview with The Times, Ali Safi said: “He said, ‘Look after yourself and look after Lubna.’ We had no idea what he was planning.”
Ali Safi also said that his brother-in-law “did the wrong thing by taking the law into his own hands.”
“He did the wrong thing by taking the law into his own hands, but in his eyes the law and everyone else had failed him, so he could not stop what he was doing out of love for his children.
The kids’ disappearance has sparked an investigation involving over 100 police officers.
It is believed that the children were scheduled to be adopted by a new family when they were taken from the foster home.
Safi is suspected of threatening the foster carer with a knife before taking the children to his vehicle.
Met Police Commander Bas Javid said: “I can’t imagine how distressing this whole situation has been for the three young boys, who have been taken away from their safe environment, and our efforts to locate Imran Safi continues.
“We are now offering a £20,000 reward for any information that will help us to bring the children home safely.
“We also need the public’s help to identify a man who was the passenger in the red Nissan at the time the children were taken. He may hold valuable information as to where the children and Imran Safi are.”
He added: “The focus of this operation is returning these innocent children to the UK which is our top priority. We hope that offering this reward will lead to some significant information being passed to us.”
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