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A former student of Lancaster University has thought to have been killed whilst fighting alongside ISIS militants in Syria. The parents of two brothers, one of whom attended Lancaster University, are believed to have been told by ISIS militants that one has been killed and the other is missing, presumed dead.
Khalif Shariff, 21, is said to have abandoned a Law degree at Lancaster University to travel to Syria along with his younger brother, Abdulrahman, 18. The younger of the two had been confirmed dead, according to Mohammed Shafiq, chairman of the Greater Manchester-based Ramadhan Foundation, whilst Khalif had been reported missing.
A friend, who was close to the two brothers, told the Manchester Evening News: “I was close to the older brother, Khalif. He used to work for Apple, so we talked about that. He went to university for about five or six months before he went to Syria.
A spokesperson from the university told The Visitor that “Lancaster University can confirm that Khalif Shariff was enrolled as a first year student in the autumn of 2014 but left the university shortly after the commencement of his course.”
The family, who are from Somalian descent alerted the police when the brothers first travelled to Syria, and were informed of the deaths in the past few days. A neighbour of the family is understood to have said that the brothers’ parents are devastated by the news. The family moved to the UK two decades ago from Kenya and live in Old Trafford.
The news of the brothers has spread across national tabloid newspapers as it is reported that the brothers were friends with Manchester United footballer, Sadiq El Fitouri, who lives on the same street as their parents.
The 21-year-old player told The Sun: “It’s a mad situation. They were great lads, just normal guys who used to play football with us and go to the gym. Our families have known each other for years. I just can’t believe they’ve done this. There was never any sign.”
The Foreign Office refused to confirm whether the reports of the brothers’ deaths were true. A spokesperson for the Foreign Office said “We are aware of these reports, but cannot confirm them.”
A police source from the Greater Manchester Police force said counter-terrorism detectives were now looking into the brother’s disappearance.