Yorkshire teen thought to be UK’s youngest suicide bomber
The family of a West Yorkshire teen, who is believed to have become Britain’s youngest suicide bomber, said they are “utterly devastated and heartbroken”.
Pictures of Talha Asmal, aged 17, were released by militant group ISIS on Saturday, along with a statement saying that he detonated a vehicle fitted with explosives in Baiji, Iraq.
ISIS said his name was Abu Yusuf al-Britani but following media reports identifying the boy in the pictures as Asmal, his family released a statement expressing their grief and anger.
“Exploited by persons unknown”
In a statement, they said: “Talha was a loving, kind, caring and affable teenager.
“He never harboured any ill will against anybody nor did he ever exhibit any violent, extreme or radical views of any kind.
“Talha’s tender years and naivety were it seems however exploited by persons unknown who, hiding behind the anonymity of the world wide web, targeted and befriended Talha and engaged in a process of deliberate and calculated grooming of him.
“Whilst there it appears that Talha fell under the spell of individuals who continued to prey on his innocence and vulnerability to the point where if the press reports are accurate he was ordered to his death by so-called Isis handlers and leaders too cowardly to do their own dirty work.
“We are all naturally utterly devastated and heartbroken by the unspeakable tragedy that now appears to have befallen us.”
If reports are corroborated, Asmal would be Britain’s youngest known suicide bomber.
Police have said they are unable to confirm the identity of a British national who was reportedly killed while with Islamic State in Iraq.
West Yorkshire Police said in a statement: “The police have been made aware of media reports with regard to the death of a British National in Iraq.
“The identity of the person who has reportedly died has not been confirmed at this time and we are unable to comment further.
“We are aware that large numbers of British nationals are travelling to the Middle East for a variety of reasons and we understand that some of those travelling have resided in West Yorkshire. We continue to support families who have loved ones that are believed to have travelled and the local communities who understandably may also have concerns.”