Bri­ton linked to blast

Los Angeles Times - - THE WORLD - By Christina Boyle Boyle is a spe­cial cor­re­spon­dent.

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.

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