Revealed: Afghan who killed Northern Ireland soldier and two colleagues
This is the first published picture of the Afghan traitor who killed three members of British forces — including a soldier from Northern Ireland — inside their patrol base last month.
Talib Hussein, who carried out the attack while on night guard duty at PB (Patrol Base) 3 at Nahr-e-Saraj in Helmand Province, is believed to have contacted his family to express his “remorse” at causing them distress.
Lieutenant Neal Turkington — who was buried in his native Portadown on Tuesday — and Corporal Arjun Purja died when a rocket-propelled grenade was fired into the control room of the base on July 13.
Major James Joshua Bowman, the company commander, was killed in the tent where he had slept.
Hussein also expressed unease at being with the overwhelmingly Sunni Pashtun Taliban, according to Afghan security sources.
The 20-year-old, a Shia from Afghanistan's Hazara minority, joined the Afghan army only last year.
The deadly assault on the three soldiers from 1st Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles, followed the killings of five UK servicemen last year at another base, Blue 25, near Nad-e-Ali in Helmand.
Hussein has twice contacted his family in Ghazni province by telephone and maintained he would meet them again, Afghan officials said.
He also allegedly expressed his trepidation of being with the Taliban. His family are deeply upset by Hussein's killings and had told Afghan security officials they would urge him to give himself up if the opportunity arose.
The Hazara community suffered brutality in the hands of Mullah Omar's Taliban regime, and senior community leaders have expressed concern at the attempts of the Afghan president Hamid Karzai to broker a deal with the Taliban.
There was, therefore, shock that one of their own had carried out the killings.
The Taliban's claim that Hussein had been a long-term ‘sleeper’ activated to carry out the killings has not been backed by evidence.
He had spent two years in Iran before joining the army, and Afghan and British investigators have been examining whether he formed links with hardline Islamist groups during that time. There is nothing to suggest that he had links with the government in Tehran.
Hussein gained a reputation among his British trainers for being reliable, leading to rapid promotion to the rank of sergeant.
A few days after the killings, a man claiming to be the soldier contacted several news outlets to say that he had carried out the attack because British forces were “misbehaving with our sisters and mothers; they were killing innocent people — our brothers”.