LONDON — Could a British highway worker have blown himself up in a Syrian suicide bombing?
The BBC and other British media said Thursday that police were trying to confirm whether 41-year-old Abdul Waheed Majid, who grew up in the London commuter town of Crawley, blew himself up during an attack on a prison in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo where hundreds of prisoners were freed last week.
Majid's family remains unconvinced. His uncle Mohammad Jamil said the highway worker, a father of three, wasn't an extremist and had traveled to Syria on a humanitarian mission.
Jamil, 65, said his nephew told his family last week that he was on the move and there might be a communications lag.
"He said: 'If I don't contact you for a few days, don't worry about it, I will be in touch again.' That's the last communication we had," Jamil said.
British law enforcement and government officials have been tightlipped. Local police said only that a search was being carried out at a house in Crawley, which neighbors identified as Majid's. British diplomats said they were aware of reports that a British citizen had died "in a suicide" in Aleppo, but said they were unable to confirm it.
Western officials have voiced increasing concerns that Syria's civil war could serve as a magnet for would-be jihadists. Between 600 and 700 British Muslims have traveled to Syria to fight, French President Francois Hollande said during a recent trip to the U.K.
Rami Abdurrahman, who heads the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said he couldn't confirm Majid's death.