The heartbroken family of a Huddersfield suicide bomber who killed 30 people after detonating a bomb in Iraq were trying to come to terms with his death yesterday.
Mohammed Rizwan Awan, a 27-year-old, married, Islamic State fighter, is originally from Huddersfield and was educated at Honley High School and Bradford College.
On Monday the bomb he detonated killed 30 people in Anbar province, west of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.
The actual death toll has been disputed with the Iraqi state claiming the suicide bomber was the only casualty.
The victims are believed to be state security personnel, as well as aligned Sunni forces.
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 admit he is Mohammed Rizwan Awan.
His father Mohammed Idrees, a 60-year-old bus driver, was too upset to discuss the matter at the family home in a quiet street in Crosland Moor.
But a friend of the family, Kirklees councillor Mohammed Sarwar who represents Crosland Moor and Netherton, said: “I didn’t know him personally but I know his father who is a very, very good person.
“He is a bus driver and such a nice person. It is really sad what has happened you know. “There are no words to describe it. He must have been brainwashed . There’s nothing else you can say.”
It’s understood Awan, whose IS name was Abu Musa al-Britani, had been married for two years and he and his wife Sophie had left this country in July last year telling their families they were intending to go on a pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
Close family relatives say they were shocked when letters were found saying the couple were planning to go and live in Saudi Arabia.
And the Examiner can reveal that Awan had a brush with death in May 2008 when he was slashed from side to side in a horror attack when he was caught up in gang warfare on the streets of Manchester Road, Longroyd Bridge, Huddersfield.
His life hung in the balance after his car was cornered by three others and he was slashed repeatedly in the face and arms with a machete.
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.
At the time, his aunt Shahida Awan, who garnered local fame when she was the first female Asian councillor to be elected to Kirklees Council in 2004, said: “ Rizwan was just trying to help a friend .
“He was being a good Samaritan. He didn’t know there was something going on between these men but later realised that he was being chased.
“They cut across his face. It was slashed from one side and as he tried to protect his face with his arms they got slashed too.
“It is as if they cut him like a piece of cake.”
Awan is the latest suicide bomber to hail from West Yorkshire.
Last year 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 and before that the four men who perpetrated the July 7, 2005 London bombings all had links to the area.
One of them, of course, was former Rawthorpe High School student Jermaine Lindsay who had been a model pupil until he was radicalised.