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ITV News exclusive: The British suicide bomber who helped Islamic State take Ramadi

Video report by ITV News' Juliet Bremner

A British suicide bomber who helped Islamic State militants advance into the Iraqi city of Ramadi was a popular body-building schoolboy when in the UK, ITV News can reveal.

Known as Abu Musa al-Britani, A-Level student Fatlum Shakalu, 20, was among the first of six militants to blow himself up as IS surged into Ramadi.

It comes after his brother Flamur, 23, died on the frontline in Iraq in March.

One of Shakalu's former school friends told ITV News that Shakalu was an "extremely friendly" young man who liked to post pictures of his "honed physique" on social media.

Fatlum Shakalu was a 'popular' schoolboy who enjoyed body-building, a former school friend has said Credit: ITV News

His transition into extreme Islamism was gradual, the friend said, whereas his brother's conversion was far more noticeable and dramatic.

Fatlum was extremely friendly, approachable and competitive when it came to exercise and posting pictures on Facebook of his well-honed physique.

He was very popular - whenever you would run into him in the street he was always surrounded by a large group of friends.

At least with Flamur you saw an almost overnight transformation. He was someone you would see drinking, socialising, beardless and popular with ladies - overnight, he has a grim expression on his face, his demeanor changes.

If you went to the mosque he would be there for every prayer. With Fatlum it was more gradual. I was more surprised about Fatlum, and less surprised about Flamur.

– Former school friend

He said he believed there was a gang of around a dozen Islamic State recruiters operating in and around Holland Park School in London, where both brothers attended, targeting people they believed could be converted to their cause.

Other known jihadis Hamza Parvez and Mohammed Nasser, who died fighting in 2013, were also former students of the school.

Shakalu with Mohammed Nasser, who was killed in Syria in 2013 Credit: ITV News

Shakalu and his brother came from a non-devout Muslim family of Kosovan-Albanian descent

They headed out to Turkey in the spring of 2013 before moving into Syria, telling their parents they were there to do aid work.

The friend told ITV News of his shock that a classmate had turned out to be a suicide bomber.

It is sad, we have to ask ourselves why a person full of talent full of dreams and possibility and potential, what would make themselves blow themselves up. Maybe ask what is leading young people to commit these actions - seemingly unfathomable actions.

It's shocking when you look at it, in hindsight, in retrospect, but when you actually consider that somebody went to Syria then anything can happen.

From the moment you set foot in Syria, anything is liable to happen.

– Former school friend