A 17-year-old from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, is thought to have become Britain’s youngest suicide bomber after leaving home to join Islamic State in March. Talha Asmal, who is believed to have reached Iraq via a holiday flight to Turkey on 31 March, blew himself up in the northern Iraqi town of Baiji.
The Guardian reports that the suicide attacks are understood to have occurred in Iraq’s Salahuddin province, around one of the country’s largest oil refineries, as part of a larger IS offensive.
On Saturday evening social media accounts linked to Islamic State (IS) released pictures related to the bombing. Those photographs are now being investigated by West Yorkshire Police. They showed four suicide bombers, one of whom was named as Abu Yusuf al-Britani.
A smiling Britani is shown standing beside a black Toyota SUV and sitting on the ground while apparently receiving instructions from a commander. West Yorkshire police have not yet publicly confirmed whether Britani is Asmal. The remaining three Islamist extremists are believed to be German, Kuwaiti and Palestinian.
The Mirror reports that Asmal/Britani boarded his flight to Turkey with his 17-year-old friend Hassan Munshi more than two months ago. At the time the pair’s families described them as “two ordinary Yorkshire lads” with promising futures “who enjoyed the things that all young people enjoy at their age.”
Breitbart London previously reported that Hassan is the younger brother of Hammaad Munshi. He became Britain’s youngest convicted terrorist following his 2006 arrest at the age of 15 over his role in a plot to murder non-Muslims. He was found to have been stockpiling terror guides, including files from the internet about making napalm, detonators and grenades.
The Munshis are grandsons of prominent Islamic scholar Yakub Munshi. Thought to be a senior figure at Dewsbury’s Markazi Masjid, Yakub Munshi was reportedly the driving force behind the creation of Dewsbury’s first sharia court.
In 2006, The Daily Mail linked the Markazi Masjid to Tablighi Jamaat, “a radical Islamic movement believed by intelligence agencies to be a fertile source for recruiting young extremists.” At the same time The Times stated that French intelligence labelled the group an “antechamber of fundamentalism” and The Telegraph wrote of it under the headline “Army of Darkness.”
The previous youngest British suicide bomber, Hasib Hussein, was 18 when he exploded a bomb on a London bus in the ‘7/7’ attacks of July 2005. He was also from West Yorkshire.