Suspect probed by cops in connection to Liverpool hospital bomb

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Suspect probed by cops in connection to Liverpool hospital bomb

The suspected terrorist whose homemade bomb exploded in a taxi outside a British hospital has been identified as a mentally troubled Iraqi Syrian convert to Christianity whose efforts to seek asylum failed, according to reports.

Police named the bomber who detonated his device outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital on Sunday as Emad Al Swealmeen, 32, who came to Britain as an asylum-seeker several years ago and had converted to Christianity in 2017.

Al Swealmeen was killed and the quick-thinking hero cabbie was injured after locking the attacker in his taxi. Authorities have called the bombing a terrorist act as they continue to investigate the motive.

Local outlets reported that Al Swealmeen had a history of mental problems and was taken in by Elizabeth and Malcolm Hitchcott, a Christian couple in Liverpool, for eight months as his appeal for refugee status played out in 2017.

According to sources, Al Swealmeen (right) had converted to Christianity in Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral in 2017.
According to sources, Al Swealmeen (right) had converted to Christianity in Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral in 2017.
Facebook

Elizabeth told the BBC she felt “just so sad” and “very shocked” by the incident, adding: “We just loved him, he was a lovely guy.”

Malcolm told ITV that the man had spent time in a mental institution after being arrested with a knife during an incident in central Liverpool – but otherwise “he was a very quiet fellow” who converted from Islam at Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral.

Meanwhile, police have released four men arrested under the Terrorism Act by detectives investigating the case.

Emad Al Swealmeen was the only person killed in the blast due to him being locked in the cab by the quick-thinking driver.
Emad Al Swealmeen was the only person killed in the blast due to him being locked in the cab by the quick-thinking driver.
Facebook
Taxi driver David Perry, who was injured in the bomb blast, managed to lock Emad Al Swealmeen in his cab before running to safety.
Taxi driver David Perry, who was injured in the bomb blast, managed to lock Emad Al Swealmeen in his cab before running to safety.
David Perry/Facebook

Counterterrorism official Russ Jackson 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 investigators have “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 added that “there is a considerable way to go to understand how this incident was planned, prepared for and how it happened.”

Surveillance video from the Liverpool hospital showing David Perry's cab drive up moments before the explosion.
Surveillance video from the Liverpool hospital showing David Perry’s cab drive up moments before the explosion.
CCTV shows a taxi explode outside Liverpool Women's Hospital seconds after a suicide bomber detonates home-made device.
CCTV shows a taxi explode outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital seconds after a suicide bomber detonated a homemade device.

The Times newspaper reported that an “Islamist plot was a significant line of inquiry” for investigators, pointing to the Liverpool Cathedral or Liverpool Women’s Hospital as possible targets.

The bomb contained TATP, the same explosive favored by ISIS that was used in the 2015 Paris attacks and the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017, according to the news outlet.

Britain’s official threat level was raised from substantial to severe — meaning an attack is highly likely — following the blast, the UK’s second fatal incident in a month.  

An armed police officer holds a breaching shotgun, used to blast the hinges off a door, at an address in Rutland Avenue in Sefton Park, after an explosion at the Liverpool Women's Hospital.
An armed police officer holds a breaching shotgun, used to blast the hinges off a door, at an address in Rutland Avenue in Sefton Park, after an explosion at the Liverpool Women’s Hospital.
Peter Byrne/PA via AP
Police raid a home on Rutland Avenue after arresting three men in connection to an attempted Liverpool hospital bombing.
Police raid a home on Rutland Avenue after arresting three men in connection to an attempted Liverpool hospital bombing.
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

David Perry, the taxi driver, has been hailed as a hero after he apparently locked Al Swealmeen in the vehicle before the bomb exploded inside.

Surveillance footage obtained by the Sun showed Perry’s taxi pulling up outside the hospital’s entrance after he picked up the suspect about 10 minutes away.

The bomb exploded before the car had even come to a complete stop, and seconds later, Perry can be seen stumbling from the driver’s door as smoke and flames billow from the vehicle.

Police forensics officers work outside the Women's Hospital in Liverpool on November 15, 2021.
Police forensics officers work outside the Women’s Hospital in Liverpool on November 15, 2021.
PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

His wife, Rachel, wrote in a Facebook post Monday that it was an “utter miracle” her husband survived that blast.

Jackson, head of Counter Terrorism Policing North West, later said he could not confirm reports that the driver had locked the doors before the explosion, the BBC reported.

He said he has spoken to Perry while he was still shaken and that police have not yet gotten a full account of the incident.

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