Briton linked to blast
LONDON — A teenager from northern England is believed to have become Britain’s youngest suicide bomber after falling victim to what his family described as “deliberate and calculated grooming” by Islamic State militants.
Talha Asmal, 17, reportedly blew himself up in an explosives-laden car in Iraq on Saturday after traveling to Syria to join the militants.
His death has not yet been confirmed by officials, but images of him were circulated on Islamic State social media accounts. Family members issued a statement saying they were “devastated” and “heartbroken.”
They also lashed out at Islamic State for preying on their son.
“Talha’s tender years and naivety were, it seems how- ever, 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,” the statement said.
Prime Minister David Cameron said he was “deeply concerned” by the news.
Talha is believed to be one of four people who carried out coordinated car bomb attacks near an oil refinery south of Baiji in Iraq that killed at least 11 people.
If Talha’s death is confirmed, he would be the sixth British national known to have died as a suicide bomber. The youngest until now was Hasib Hussain, 18, one of four men to blow themselves up on the London transportation network in 2005.