Liverpool bomb suspect Emad Al Swealmeen reported to be Christian convert

·4-min read
Emad Al Swealmeen has been named as the Liverpool bomber  (.)
Emad Al Swealmeen has been named as the Liverpool bomber (.)

Police investigating the terror attack outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital have named the suspected bomber who died in the blast as 32-year-old Emad Al Swealmeen.

He was a passenger in a taxi when a suspected homemade bomb exploded shortly before 11am on Remembrance Sunday.

It emerged on Monday night that Al Swealmeen was an asylum seeker who had converted from Islam to Christianity at Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral in 2017.

Al Swealmeen arrived in Britain from the Middle East about six years ago and claimed to be from either Syria or Iraq, according to The Times. He is said to have been sectioned seven years ago after trying to take his own life by jumping off an overpass, while waving a knife, in central Liverpool.

The driver David Perry escaped before the car caught fire and has since been discharged from hospital.

Police said the explosion had been declared as a terrorist incident and four men were arrested under the Terrorism Act. They have since been released.

Russ Jackson, the head of counterterrorism policing for northwest England, said that "following interviews with the arrested men, we are satisfied with the accounts they have provided and they have been released from police custody."

Jackson said that police now had "a much greater understanding of the component parts of the device, how they were obtained and how the parts are likely to have been assembled." But he said "there is a considerable way to go to understand how this incident was planned, prepared for and how it happened."

Security sources told the newspaper that Al Swealmeen was not on MI5’s radar at the time of the attack.

Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Meeks said: "Our enquiries are very much ongoing but at this stage we strongly believe that the deceased is 32-year-old Emad Al Swealmeen.

"Al Swealmeen is connected to both the Rutland Avenue and Sutcliffe Street addresses where searches are still ongoing.

"We believe he lived at the Sutcliffe Street address for some time and had recently rented the Rutland Avenue address.

"Our focus is the Rutland Avenue address where we have continued to recover significant items.

"We continue to appeal for any information about this incident and now that we have released his name any information that the public may have about Al Swealmeen no matter how small may be of great assistance to us."

Al Swealmeen had no known connections to any terrorist groups, The Sun reports. He is understood to have been in a long-standing dispute with the Home Office over his application for residential status in the UK.

Malcolm and Elizabeth Hitchott, Liverpool residents who took him in for eight months, told the newspaper he had “never talked about Islam”.

It is also claimed that he had changed his first name to Enzo Almeni in honour of Ferrari founder Enzo Ferrari, various media outlets reported.

Police on Monday confirmed bomb-making materials for an improvised explosive device had been found at one of the addresses sealed off by officers on Sunday.

In the wake of the incident, the UK terror threat level has been raised to severe, meaning a future attack is highly likely.

‘Incredible presence of mind’

Dramatic video footage of the blast showed Mr Perry’s cab pulling up outside Liverpool’s Women’s Hospital on Sunday.

As smoke and fire engulfed the car, Mr Perry, a 45-year-old married father-of-two, can be seen opening his driver’s door and stumbling out before running to safety. Flames consumed his cab moments later, leaving it a charred wreck as stunned onlookers watched the horrifying scene.

Mr Perry was praised by Prime Minister Boris Johnson for behaving with "incredible presence of mind and bravery", and lauded for his "heroic efforts" by the mayor of Liverpool, Joanne Anderson.

Speaking at a press conference at Downing Street, Mr Johnson said the blast was a "stark reminder" to the public to remain vigilant, adding: "What yesterday showed above all is that the British people will never be cowed by terrorism, we will never give in to those who seek to divide us with senseless acts of violence.

"And our freedoms and our way of life will always prevail."

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