The brother of a Sussex man who blew himself up in Syria claims he should be regarded as a hero and not a terrorist.
Abdul Waheed Majeed from Crawley drove a truck full of explosives into Aleppo Prison in an attack that freed 300 inmates.
His brother Hafeez Majeed, speaking to BBC’s Newsnight, said that his family wanted to challenge the idea that the attack represented a threat to the UK.
He said he believed the 41-year-old father-of-three died trying to save Syrian people, who were being tortured in the Assad regime’s prisons.
“If my brother had been a British soldier and there were British people in that prison and the act of heroism or bravery that he did, I know he would have been awarded the posthumous Victoria Cross,” Mr Majeed told the BBC’s Newsnight.
“My brother was not a terrorist. My brother was a hero. My brother paid the full price with his life for what he did. He was not a threat to the British public and never has been a threat to the British public.”
Father-of-three Abdul Waheed Majeed left for Syria in July last year on an aid convoy to the Turkish border but missed two chances to return, the latest in January.
Arif Syed, an Islamic community leader in Crawley, said: “We have made our position clear in the past and that hasn’t changed.
“We condemn any act of terrorism anywhere in the world, regardless of religion.
“We are totally against killing innocent people.”
And Crawley MP Henry Smith is urging his constituents not to travel to the war-stricken Middle East.
He said: “I think it’s really important to reiterate the message that it’s very dangerous to travel to Syria and what’s worse is there is a chance people can become radicalised, which is an issue I have raised in the House of Commons.
“I also think the local authorities, the police and the Home Office need to step up their preventative strategies to identify those people at risk of becoming radicalised so that they can be supported.
“I don’t think it’s a wider problem – I think these are narrow and isolated incidents, but nonetheless one incident is a problem.
“This is not something we should be complacent about.”