There is a frantic hunt for three young brothers after they were snatched from their foster mother by their knife-wielding Afghan father who feared they were about to be permanently adopted.
The Metropolitan Police is hunting 26-year-old Imran Safi and the children, who has already arrested eight relatives and employees of the Afghan citizen for kidnapping the boys.
The children were grabbed while playing in their foster home’s garden in Coulsdon, South London, on Thursday, August 20, as Safi pushed them away in a red Nissan despite their foster mother’s desperate efforts..
At least 100 police officers have now joined the hunt for Bilal Safi, six, Mohammed Ebrar Safi, five, and Mohammed Yaseen Safi, three, with all ports warned over their father’s ties to Pakistan.
Police have refused to disclose why the children were taken in and would only confirm that their mother is ‘in the country’.
Nor have they explained why the public appeal came seven days after the boys were snatched.
The three children had been in social welfare ‘for some time’, police said, and the relationship between Safi, an Afghan citizen, and their mother is unknown.
Detectives launched the public call for information after they “ exhausted several lines of investigation. ”
Police have called for help to locate a father who abducted his three children at the intersection of their foster carer. Pictured: Bilal, 6, Ebrar, 5 and Yaseen, 3
Imran Safi turned unannounced last Thursday at his sons’ foster home in Coulsdon, South London, where he attacked their foster mother and threatened her with a knife
Investigators are now calling on information about the movements of a Nissan Qashqai car during the afternoon of Thursday, August 20 in the Croydon area, specifically Coulsdon Road
Investigators related how the unnamed woman heard footsteps nearby, turned and saw the children’s father.
The foster carer told police Imran had threatened her with a knife. She sustained no serious bodily harm, but was left “sad” and was able to notify emergency services shortly after.
Shortly after the children were arrested, an ‘all ports alert’ was issued which meant that Imran’s image and details were spread to all ports and borders around the UK.
Detectives work closely with national and international agencies to ensure that any movement abroad is identified.
Imran is an Afghan citizen with an indefinite residence permit and is associated with Pakistan. At this stage, it is not known whether he traveled abroad.
Detectives are now relying on information about the movements of a vehicle during the afternoon of Thursday, August 20 in the Croydon area, in particular Coulsdon Road.
The vehicle is a red Nissan Qashqai, registration PK13 WFO.
“On Thursday afternoon, August 20, Imran Safi visited the foster mother’s home, but he shouldn’t have been, and attacked her,” Commander Savell said.
Fortunately, she has only minor injuries, but she is very shocked. He used a knife and took the three boys and basically disappeared.
The foster mother was able to sound the alarm and since then enormous resources have been used to find Imran and the three boys.
“Our priority is to get the three boys back into social care.”
He added that while there was no imminent threat of harm to the boys, they were concerned about longer-term well-being.
There are also concerns that Safi could have taken the boys out of the country, although it is not believed he had their passport.
Met Police has since arrested eight people on suspicion of involvement in the kidnapping of the three boys. They have all been released on bail.
They include a 25-year-old woman and a 32-year-old man who were arrested in Kenley on Friday, August 21. Two more people, a 25-year-old woman and a 37-year-old man, were arrested in Kenley on Tuesday.
Three men – two aged 20 and one aged 17 – were arrested in Croydon on Sunday, August 23. A 33-year-old man was also arrested in the area on Tuesday.
They are all members of the family or employees of England.
Chief Inspector Dave Stringer added: “This will be an event that will cause major shocks and disruption to the local community. Clearly a very unusual and very shocking incident.
‘We have reason to believe that there are people in the area who may have seen activity around the property.
‘We also think there may be people connected to the family who will know what happened and why things happened, and I would strongly urge them to do the right thing
“These photos show that they were happy, they were settled, and they should have gone back to school soon.”
Anyone with a dashcam who may have noticed passing a vehicle with this description within the specified time will be asked to check their footage for sightings.
Likewise, anyone who has seen a vehicle that fits this description is driving in an unusual manner in the area should contact agents who are working hard to track the movements of the vehicle.
Commander Jon Savell said, “Our absolute priority right now is the well-being of these three children. They have been taken from a safe place and we are increasingly concerned about their well-being, especially as we are in the midst of a global health crisis.
While we currently do not believe there is any direct risk to their physical safety, their location, access to housing, healthcare and other amenities is completely unknown. We are concerned about the longer term consequences of this for all three children.
The three children had been in social welfare at the house on Coulsdon Road in Coulsdon, South London, ‘for some time’, police say, and the relationship between Safi, an Afghan national, and their mother is unknown.
An intensive investigation into how this kidnapping was planned and carried out is being led by detectives in South London, in addition to a manhunt led by specialist detectives within the Met. More than 100 officers are currently working to locate these children and bring them home safely. We are, as anyone would expect, working incredibly closely with our law enforcement partners and international colleagues to explore all lines of research.
‘This type of research is incredibly complex and rapidly evolving, and it is for good reason that we often do not speak openly about such cases. Therefore, we have not sought help from the public so far. But we now urge anyone who has information that could help us to come forward. ‘
Chief Superintendent Dave Stringer, Commander of the South Area Basic Command Unit, said, ‘The kidnapping of these children will understandably come as a shock to our communities. This incident involved the use of a weapon and violence, and we are incredibly concerned for these three young, vulnerable children who are now being hidden by a person who may be armed with a knife.
The investigation into how this incident happened is gaining momentum – and we have already arrested eight people on suspicion of involvement in this kidnapping. We know that there are those with detailed knowledge of the whereabouts of these children, and we fully realize that there can be very good reasons for those individuals who do not want to come forward. But right now, I would strongly urge them to do the right thing and help us locate them. ‘
Any member of the public who can see Imran Safi should avoid approaching him, but should immediately call the police at 999 with the same crime reference number.
Anyone who has information about the red vehicle or who believes they have seen Imran Safi and his children since Thursday, August 20, is asked to immediately contact the police via the control room on 07942599374 – this number is available 24 hours a day. available seven days a week. week.
Anyone wishing to provide information anonymously can do so by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 quoting crime reference number 6143 / 20AUG20.