17-Year-Old Talha Asmal’s Car Bombing in Iraq Leaves Dewsbury in Shock
The suicide bombing by a West Yorkshire teenager has left the community of his home town in shock at the news.
Talha Asmal, 17, who reportedly carried out the suicide bombing which has left his towns folk “devastated”, was described by Dewsbury councillor Masood Ahmed as being “no different” from other teenagers.
According to social media reports linked to Islamic State, Talha, going by the name of Abu Yusuf al-Britani, was one of four attackers involved in car bombings which left 11 people dead in the city of Baiji, north of Baghdad.
His family say Talha, who is believed to be the UK’s youngest suicide bomber, was groomed into extremism online.
Labour member of Kirklees Council Masood Ahmed, said, “Communities are devastated and shocked to hear the news”.
“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, “Masood said.
Lorraine Barker, executive principal of Mirfield Free Grammar and Sixth Form, where Asmal had been studying, described him as a “conscientious student”, and said his trip to Syria with fellow Dewsbury teenager Hassan Munshi in March had left staff and students at the school in “complete shock”.
His family described Talha as a “loving, kind, caring and affable teenager” in a statement issued on Sunday.
“He never harboured any ill will against anybody nor did he ever exhibit any violent, extreme or radical views of any kind,” they said.
“Talha’s tender years and naivety were, it seems… 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.”
They added: “We are all naturally utterly devastated and heartbroken by the unspeakable tragedy that now appears to have befallen us.”
Former MP for Dewsbury, Shahid Malik, who is also a family friend, described how “distrubing” it was to see Talha look relaxed in the IS photographs purported to have been taken before his suicide mission.
He said: “He looks at peace. It’s like he’s ready to go and meet his maker. This is a clear indication of just how successful the evil Isis groomers have been in poisoning and brainwashing Talha and kids like him.
“Parents often haven’t got a clue what’s going on and the kids themselves don’t see themselves as victims – and even society doesn’t.”
He said Talha’s story should be seen as a “wake-up call”.
“Mosques need to confront this evil ideology head-on. Children need to be taught what is acceptable and not acceptable in respect to Islamic State’s ideology.
“I would say that up and down and the country that is not happening at the moment.”