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Family shocked by news devoted Crawley father is being linked to suicide bomber
UPDATE: A Crawley family have been left devastated upon learning a father-of-four could have been the UK's first suicide bomber in Syria.
Abdul Waheed Majid, 41, lived in Martyrs Avenue, Langley Green, Crawley for many years with his four children before leaving on an aid mission to the war-torn country in August.
This morning, counter-terrorism officers raided his home - which was formerly where notorious child murderer Roy Whiting lived.
This afternoon, his uncle Mohammad Jamil, 65, said the shocked family were "in bits".
Arif Syed, a community leader in Crawley, added Majeed would phone or Skype his family every three days, but communication was lost with him about seven days ago.
Mr Syed said he missed two opportunities to return, the last in early January. He said: "He enjoyed it so much and he extended his period of stay."
He said that had he shown any signs of radicalism they would not have let him go on the mission in the first place.
This was the first time he had travelled to the Middle East, and when friends visited him out there, they had seen he had been doing good work there.
He added they were outraged that police carried out the raid without prior warning when the family were fully co-operative.
Mr Syed, 59, said he hoped to learn that Majeed was not behind the attack in Aleppo. He said: "We have got our hopes high.
"We are praying that he will walk through the door. It's a good possibility that he's still alive and well, and is just not communicating.
"We live with this hope until the authorities confirm, or we get eye-witnesses that say it was him. We strongly hope and believe that he is alive and well, and that he will join his family."
Mr Majid was born and bred in Crawley, and went to Hazelwick School as a boy.
More recently, he had worked as a contractor for Highways Agency and helped to build the A23.
He was a member of Langley Green Mosque and also part of another mosque.
Neighbours said lots of people had been seen going in and out of the house in morning in the past week.
Officers are investigating whether Mr Majid was a UK jihadi using the name Abu Suleiman al-Britani, who carried out the deadly bombing.
He is said to have driven a lorry into a jail in Aleppo and detonated a bomb last week, and is thought to be the first Briton to stage a suicide attack in the war-torn state, where increasing numbers of UK-born extremists have gone to fight.
Counter-terrorism teams in the UK have grown increasingly concerned about the trend of young Britons travelling to Syria to train to fight with jihadi groups, and the potential that they could return and stage attacks on UK soil.
When news emerged about the suicide bombing in Syria, the family of Majeed - who is of Pakistani descent - started to panic, Mr Syed said.
He said: "They started getting really worried as they hadn't been in contact. Also, what happened over the weekend started alarm bells.
"We had a meeting with agencies, including the local authority and the police, yesterday. They told us that they couldn't confirm through all their intelligence and sources that it is this man or not.
"As far as we are concerned, the man reported on the internet and social media is Abu Suleiman al-Britani.
"We have a very close community in Crawley and it is a very diverse town. We don't recognise that name. We have asked every member of our community if they recognised (this name) and they don't."
Mr Jamil said Majeed's family hoped for positive news from the authorities and that he will eventually turn up alive and well.
He said: "The bottom line is that the police cannot confirm it, there is no confirmation and the family has got hope that as long as there is no confirmation, we hope that he will turn up."
Mr Jamil said relatives had been co-operating with the police and were left "shocked and surprised" when they obtained a search warrant to raid Majeed's family home.
"There was no need for it," he said. "The family was co-operating. They should have taken a bit more of a sensitive decision.
"This happened miles away and the family is feeling the brunt of it. I think that was unnecessary."
Mr Jamil said the family had no reason to believe that Majeed was anywhere but at refugee camps giving aid.
Describing his nephew as a "family man", he went on: "He spent a lot of time with his wife and kids and he has always been employed, and a well-liked person."
The emotions of Majeed's wife have fluctuated since reports suggested her husband might be behind the suicide bombing, Mr Syed said.
He said: "When people believed it was him, she went through a period of bereavement.
"When we gave her the information that the agencies could not confirm, she was really delighted, but she is in a totally confused state."
Neighbour Nita Bateman said Roy Whiting, who murdered eight-year-old schoolgirl Sarah Payne in 2000 in West Sussex, used to live at the house.
Ms Bateman, 55, expressed shock at the revelations that the house could have been used by a suicide bomber, describing him as a "pleasant chap"
in his 40s.
She said: "When I became very ill, he was always willing to help, and he would do my neighbour's hedges.
"I'm beginning to wonder whether it's something to do with that house. He was the next person to move in after Roy Whiting's dad moved out.
"I know he was born in West Green, just up the road from here. I have lived here for 20 years, and after all the hoo-ha with Roy Whiting, he moved in soon afterwards.
"I didn't really see him on a daily basis, but you would never have a bad word to say about him - he was just a pleasant chap.
"I would say I'm shocked, but you just don't know what goes on behind closed doors."
Ms Bateman said she would often see the man drive to work in a motorway maintenance lorry. She believed he had a wife and at least one child.
She went on: "Whenever we saw each other he would acknowledge me and I would him."
Another neighbour, who declined to be named, said he believed the man had a son aged around 17.
He said: "He was just a quiet guy. Whenever I saw him, he was either working on his car or doing other stuff.
"Sometimes I would see him drive off in a maintenance lorry. Whenever I saw him, I would nod my head and say hello.
"We have been living here for more than 12 years, so he has been here longer. It was a shock when I found out because he was a nice guy, but I don't know much about him."
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