A harrowing phenomenon indicates that teenagers from various Western countries are packing up and leaving home to join terrorist group ISIS, leaving behind their heartbroken parents…
It's every parent's worst nightmare.
Your son or daughter has flown the nest, but instead of moving to a university dorm or start-up home, they've fled the country - to join the Islamic State. The dilemma has so far caused endless misery for thousands of families left behind as their offspring left home to fight Jihad.
Last week saw news emerge that one of two Austrian teenage girls who flew to Syria in April to join Islamic State ranks is believed to have been killed. Samra Kesinovic, 16, and her friend Sabina Selimovic, 15, vanished from their Vienna homes earlier this year, and are thought to have entered the state through the Turkish border.
The girls' reasons for leaving are uncertain, and neither had displayed any signs of willingness to die for Islam in the weeks or months previous.
The case echoes that of two teenage twin sisters who crept from their bedrooms in Manchester, UK, before flying to Turkey with a view to crossing the Syrian border. Their parents woke at 8 am to find both missing, before the girls eventually phoned home alerting their horrified parents to their whereabouts.
Friends claimed that the pair were 'extremely religious' but otherwise - little else is known about their reasons for joining the sick terror group.
However not all cases are so shrouded in mystery. Many young jihadists are more than happy to post videos giving their reasons for enlisting and even bragging about their exploits with the Islamic State.
Aseel Muthana, 17, left Britain in February to join his older brother Nasser in the country, and says he has no plans to return. Brazenly he told BBC reporters: "Jihad is obligatory."
A video, thought to be filmed in Syria, showing Aseel's brother Nasser Muthana and Reyaad Khan, both 20 and from Cardiff, appeared online shortly after they left the UK.
Earlier this year Shannon Conley was arrested by US cops as she attempted to flee the country and join the group after meeting a Tunisian boyfriend online. She later embraced the Muslim faith in order to impress her would-be suitor. Conley's parents were aware she had converted to Islam, but did not know about her interest in violent jihad.
Experts claim that there are many reasons behind a youngster's decision to join the group. Some claim that young people of a Muslim background sometimes struggle with the differences in Western culture, while others believe that the move is often motivated by a misplaced sense of belonging.
Whatever the reason - once the move has been completed there is no going back. Sources within the Islamic State claim that youngsters who've attempted to turn their backs on the vile terror group have been tortured, or even killed.
Meanwhile, numerous Western governments are considering drastic measures aimed at preventing jihadist fighters from returning home. The end result is a generation of radicalised youngsters trapped in a rogue state thousands of miles from home. Left behind are there heartbroken families.
Aqsa Mahmood left her privileged background in Scotland to join the Islamic State in Syria. Speaking following her disappearance, Mahmood’s parents, Glasgow businessman Muzaffar and his wife Khalida, last branded their daughter a ‘bedroom radical’ who betrayed and shamed her family.
They said: "You have betrayed us, our community and the people of Scotland when you took this step. Aqsa, you have torn the heart out of our family and changed our lives forever, please come home."
Their helplessness echoes that of Turkish Dad Vakkas Doğan as he battles to find his son, Cengiz. The latter is believed to have joined the Islamic State.
Speaking about the disappearance of his son, Doğan said, “My son has been lost to me for a month. I haven't received any word from my son. He left his family and three children behind. All our attempts to prevent him from joining ISIS failed."
The shocking and unexplained phenomenon has stoked major fears worldwide, as the unexpected stories suggest that any parents could be subjected to this distressing turn of events.