Dewsbury in shock over UK’s ‘youngest suicide bomber’

Talha Asmal
Talha Asmal
Talha Asmal

Community leaders in the home town of a West Yorkshire teenager who reportedly carried out a suicide bombing in Iraq have spoken of their shock at the news.

Dewsbury councillor Masood Ahmed said Talha Asmal, 17, was “no different” from other teenagers and that people in the town were “shocked and devastated”.

And Asmal’s school principal told the Times he was a “typical teenager”.

Asmal is believed to have become Britain’s youngest suicide bomber in an oil refinery attack south of Baiji.

Social media reports linked to militant group Islamic State (IS) said Asmal, going by the name of Abu Yusuf al-Britani, had taken part in the attack along with three other suicide bombers reported BBC.

Asmal 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 7 July 2005 attacks.

“Communities are devastated and shocked to hear the news,” said Mr Ahmed, a Labour member of Kirklees Council.

He told BBC Radio 5 live there were “no signs, no symptoms” that Asmal had been groomed by extremists online – as his family now believe he was.

“He was no different from any other teenager in terms of being loving, caring, naive, innocent. He loved sport, he was doing OK in school,” Mr Ahmed said.

Lorraine Barker, executive principal of Mirfield Free Grammar and Sixth Form, where Asmal was studying, told the Times he was “very quiet and private”.

“He didn’t draw any attention to himself, he was just a conscientious student,” she said.

She said staff and students were in “complete shock” when Asmal travelled to the Middle East.