A 17-year-old boy who left the United Kingdom to join the dreaded Islamic State terror group is believed to have become Britain’s youngest ever suicide bomber after he reportedly blew himself up in Iraq, the British media reported on Sunday after the militants posted pictures on social media.
Talha Asmal was one of four suicide bombers who attacked security forces near an oil refinery south of Baiji, The Guardian reported.
IS social media reports said Asmal, going by the name of Abu Yusuf al-Britani, had taken part in the attack. His family said they were “devastated” at the news.
If confirmed, Asmal, from Dewsbury, would be Britain’s youngest known suicide bomber. Another West Yorkshire teenager, Hasib Hussein, was almost 19 when he blew himself up on a London bus in the July 7, 2005 attacks.
A statement issued by Asmal’s family 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 IS 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.”
West Yorkshire Police said: “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.”
Asmal travelled to Syria with fellow Dewsbury teenager Hassan Munshi. Munshi’s brother, Hammaad Munshi, was arrested in 2006 at the age of 16 after police found a guide to making napalm on his computer.
He became the youngest person to be convicted under the Terrorism Act.