UK
14/06/2015 13:30 BST | Updated 14/06/2016 06:59 BST

'Britain's Youngest Ever Suicide Bomber' Carries Out Attack While Fighting For IS

The family of a 17-year-old, who has reportedly become the youngest ever British suicide bomber while fighting for Islamic State (IS), have said they are "utterly devastated and heartbroken" by his death.

A Twitter account linked to the Islamist terrorist group posted an image saying "Abu Yusuf Al Britany", who appeared to be Talha Asmal, from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, had carried out an attack near an oil refinery in Iraq.

Al Britany is a suffix often given to Britons who join IS, the BBC's Tom Symonds said. Asmal's family called him "loving, kind and caring".

They said: "He never harboured any ill-will against anybody nor did he ever exhibit any violent, extreme or radical views of any kind.

isis suicide bomber

An image apparently of Asmal that was uploaded to Twitter

"Talha's tender years and naivety were it seems however 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: "Whilst there it appears that Talha fell under the spell of individuals who continued to prey on his innocence and vulnerability to the point where if the press reports are accurate he was ordered to his death by so-called Isis handlers and leaders too cowardly to do their own dirty work.

"We are all naturally utterly devastated and heartbroken by the unspeakable tragedy that now appears to have befallen us."

Ex-Labour MP Shahid Malik, a family friend, told ITV News: "It is disturbing to see how relaxed he looks in the Isis photographs allegedly taken just prior to his suicide mission.

"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."

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West Yorkshire Police said: "The police have been made aware of media reports with regard to the death of a British National in Iraq.

"The identity of the person who has reportedly died has not been confirmed at this time and we are unable to comment further."

If claims he carried out the attack are correct, Asmal is the youngest Briton to ever do such an attack.

Hasib Hussain, also from West Yorkshire, was nearly 19 when he bombed a bus in London's Tavistock Square. He was the youngest of the four bombers who attacked the city on July 7, 2005.

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