England

UK suicide bomber in Syria named as Abdul Waheed Majid

  • 12 February 2014
  • From the section England
Abdul Waheed Majid
Image caption Abdul Waheed Majid is believed to have carried out a suicide truck bombing in the city of Aleppo

A British man thought to have carried out a suicide bombing in Syria last week was Abdul Waheed Majid, the BBC has learned.

The 41-year-old, from Crawley in West Sussex, is believed to have carried out a suicide truck bombing in the city of Aleppo last Thursday.

Officials have not confirmed his identity, citing lack of DNA evidence.

Anti-terror police are searching a house in Martyrs Avenue, Langley Green, as part of the investigation.

The suspect is believed to have been responsible for a bomb attack at a prison in Aleppo that resulted in inmates escaping.

The bombing, in the north of Syria, is thought to have been the first to be carried out in the country by a Briton.

'Roy Whiting's house'

An al-Qaeda-linked rebel group, the al-Nusra Front, had named Majid by an alias - Abu Suleiman al-Britani.

People in Martyrs Avenue told the BBC he left some weeks ago for Syria.

One, Nita Bateman, said Roy Whiting, who murdered eight-year-old schoolgirl Sarah Payne in 2000 in West Sussex, lived in the house before Majid.

She described him as a "pleasant chap" and said she was shocked by the revelations.

Majid's uncle, Mohammad Jami, said the family was shocked and devastated.

"They are quite confused because they are getting all this news - unconfirmed news - from different sources," he said.

"I don't ever think he could do something like that."

The BBC understands the suspected bomber was part of a study circle in Crawley, which also included Omar Khyam, a man jailed for life in 2007 for a bomb plot.

Arif Syed, from the Crawley Islamic Culture Centre, said: "I am very disappointed that an individual from Crawley has been linked with this attack.

"It is something we are extremely upset about and something that we feel has stained the name of Crawley when Crawley is in fact a very peaceful town."

It has been reported that as many as 400 British nationals have travelled to Syria to fight against government forces.

Image caption South East Counter Terrorism Unit Police are searching the house in Langley Green in Crawley, West Sussex

Many others have travelled from Europe, with the majority thought to come from Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Libya.

'Attempted jailbreak'

Activists claimed 300 prisoners escaped as a result of the bomb attack on Aleppo prison, although the Syrian authorities have denied that.

The bombing was reportedly part of an attempted jailbreak by fighters from the hard line Islamist groups, Ahrar-al-Sham and the Al-Nusra Front.

After 24 hours of fighting at the prison, where it is thought about 3,000 people are being held, forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad regained control.

Several attacks have been made on Aleppo jail and the city has been a focus of fighting.

More than 100,000 lives have been lost in Syria in the conflict since 2011 with 9.5 million people forced to leave their homes.

Image caption The prison in central Aleppo was the scene of heavy fighting between rebels and Syrian forces last week