Liverpool bombing suspect had planned attack for months, police say

Home-made bomb exploded in taxi outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital

Emad al-Swealmeen (32) likely acted on his own, police believe

Police investigating the Liverpool hospital explosion say the suspected bomber began his plot at least seven months ago and most likely acted on his own.

Emad al-Swealmeen (32) died after a home-made bomb police believe he had built and was carrying, exploded in a taxi outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital on Sunday.

The incident has been declared as terrorism and police said on Wednesday, three days into their investigation, that the motive for his actions was still being investigated. Police said he had experienced episodes of mental ill-health and they were still trying to understand what part this played in the attack.

The plot, counter-terrorism police said, had been potentially planned for a long time, with Swealmeen starting to buy the parts needed for the home-made bomb no later than April this year.


It will raise questions about whether he could have been spotted earlier as posing a danger to others and himself.

He was living in Liverpool and was an asylum seeker whose claims to remain in the United Kingdom had been rejected.

Russ Jackson, assistant chief constable and head of counter-terrorism policing in northwest England, said: "A complex picture is emerging over the purchases of the component parts of the device. We know that Swealmeen rented the property from April this year and we believe relevant purchases have been made at least since that time."

The suspect had Iraqi and Syrian parents and also had links to Jordan. Police said they had been trying to track his relatives and revealed they believe he was born in Iraq.

Swealmeen’s time in the UK after his arrival in 2014 is also under investigation. Mr Jackson said: “Our inquiries have found that al-Swealmeen has had episodes of mental illness. This will form part of the investigation and will take some time to fully understand.

“There is much comment in the media about al-Swealmeen and it is clear that he was known to many people. We continue to appeal for people who knew him, especially those who associated with him this year as we try and piece together the events leading up to this incident and the reasons for it.”

A Mersey Care NHS foundation trust spokesman said: “We can confirm Emad al-Swealmeen had previously accessed our services but was not a service user at the time of the incident.”

Police arrested four people after the explosion and released them without charge. Mr Jackson said police believe Swealmeen plotted on his own for most of this year.

He said: “At this time we are not finding any link to others in the Merseyside area of concern but this remains a fast-moving investigation and as more becomes known we cannot rule out action against others.”

Home-made bomb

Amid speculation whether the home-made bomb was meant to cause an explosion or fireball, Mr Jackson revealed that a detailed postmortem concluded both fire and the effects of a blast killed the 32-year-old.

He said: “The postmortem on the deceased has taken place and the cause of death has been described as injuries sustained from the fire and explosion.”

The taxi driver escaped without serious injury before a fireball engulfed the vehicle within seconds of the explosion, immediately outside the entrance to the hospital.

Swealmeen had been befriended by local Christians and converted from Islam during his time in Liverpool.

The Rev Mike Hindley, from Emmanuel church in Fazakerley, Liverpool, said Swealmeen, whom they knew as Enzo, was involved in the church from 2017 to 2019.

He said: “Enzo was here for a couple of years until 2019, when we gradually lost touch with him. It’s just bewildering that a guy who was a really kind guy has ended up in that situation.”

Rev Hindley said Swealmeen came to the church from Liverpool Cathedral. He said: “He was around a lot and involved in a lot, but it was just like if anyone else joins the church from somewhere else.”

He said he was shocked at the news: “I’m still processing it. It’s shocking to have somebody who you know who is going through something that has led them to a suicide bombing.”

Rev Hindley said Swealmeen “never made a secret” of the fact he had mental health challenges.

Mr Jackson added that police searches were continuing. He said: “The taxi in which the device exploded has now been removed and today line searches by specialist officers will take place at the hospital, which could go into tomorrow.”

– Guardian