The family of a Huddersfield man suspected of becoming a suicide bomber have spoken of their grief for the first time.

And they admit they cannot understand why Mohammed Rizwan Awan chose to support IS.

The terror group issued a photo of a man believed to be Mr Awan last month and claimed he was the bomber behind an horrific car bomb attack in Iraq.

Examiner reporter Robert Sutcliffe speaks about the attack

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His family in Huddersfield have had no official confirmation either from the Iraqi authorities or the Foreign Office but believe the man in the photo is the man they remember as a caring, family man.

His aunt, former Kirklees councillor Shahida Awan, said: “Following the tragic news that a member of our family, Mohammed Rizwan Awan, may have been killed in the attack on the Iraqi forces, the past few weeks have been painfully difficult for the family.

“We are deeply touched and moved by the level of support from our friends and community, who have gathered around us at this difficult time.

Suspected IS terrorist Mohammed Rizwan Awan

“This is a period of grieving for the family and we thank all for respecting our space and privacy as we deal with this.”

Mr Awan, a 27-year-old married man, was born and brought up in Huddersfield and was educated at Honley High School and Bradford College.

Last month he reportedly killed 30 people in Anbar province, west of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, in a car bomb.

The death toll has been disputed with the Iraqi state claiming the suicide bomber was the only casualty.

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IS quickly published a picture of him smiling and holding an AK47 in their propaganda material. They called him Abu Musa al-Britani but the Awan family say he is Mr Awan.

His father Mohammed Idrees, a 60-year-old bus driver, lives with the rest of his family in Crosland Moor.

Ms Awan added: “On a personal note, I would like to thank members of the family, local elected members and the wider Huddersfield community for their warmth and support during this very difficult time.

“I am confused and baffled as to why Mohammed Rizwan Awan could be involved. We knew him as a caring loving person, well educated, happily married, living independently with his wife and in a secure employment.

“As a family we have lived in Britain since the 1960’s and for the majority of this period in Huddersfield. Throughout, we have been peaceful, hardworking and contributing citizens of Huddersfield. Our family is well known and respected in the area, as evident by the level of support that has come our way.

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“As a hard working family, we have encouraged and supported our children into further education and employment. With the grace of God they are all doing well in their

respective professions, with a successful and positive outlook on life. This makes the behaviour of Rizwan even more difficult to understand.”

It is thought Mr Awan told relatives he was planning to live in Saudi Arabia when he left Huddersfield almost a year ago but police have told them he made his way to Turkey and is then thought to have entered Syria.

In May 2008, Mr Awan was badly injured in a machete attack when he was caught up in gang warfare on the streets of Manchester Road, Longroyd Bridge. Medics placed him on a life support machine and there were fears that Rizwan, who was 18 at the time of the attack, would be left scarred for life.

His emergence as a suicide bomber comes after a 17-year-old from Dewsbury, Talha Asmal, a student at Mirfield Free Grammar School, was found to be one of four suicide bombers who carried out attacks south of Baiji in Iraq.

Before that the four men who perpetrated the July 7, 2005, London bombings all had links to the area. One of them was former Rawthorpe High School student Jermaine Lindsay who had been a model pupil until he was radicalised.