Emad al-Swealmeen: Liverpool bomber who died in taxi explosion named

Bomber, 32, rented property where explosive components were found

Lizzie Dearden
Security Correspondent
Tuesday 16 November 2021 11:39
Liverpool taxi blast treated as 'terrorist incident'

Police have named the failed bomber who died in the Liverpool Women’s Hospital explosion.

Detectives said they strongly believe the taxi passenger who was carrying the device was Emad al-Swealmeen.

The 32-year-old is thought to have lived in a house in Sutcliffe Street where several other men have been arrested.

He recently rented a different property, in Rutland Avenue, where investigators found bomb components.

Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Meeks, the senior investigating officer, said: “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.”

Rutland Avenue remained cordoned off on Monday evening, after eight families were evacuated following the discovery of bomb components. A controlled explosion was later carried out in nearby Sefton Park.

The Independent understands that al-Swealmeen was not known to MI5 or counter-terror police before he attempted the second terror attack to strike the UK within a month.

The terrorist killed only himself in the blast shortly before 11am on Remembrance Sunday, destroying a taxi as the driver narrowly escaped with his life.

Al-Swealmeen, who was known to friends in the UK as “Enzo Almeni”, is believed to have converted to Christianity at Liverpool Cathedral in 2017.

Malcolm Hitchcott, who formerly organised events at the cathedral, posted photographs on Facebook showing the former asylum seeker at a service in March that year.

Emad al-Swealmeen, also known as Enzo Almeni, pictured at Speke Hall near Liverpool in April 2017

Mr Hitchcott wrote that al-Swealmeen then lived with him and his wife “for a period of months”, adding: “He was a real blessing to us at our times of worship and teaching around the dining room table at 9.30pm each evening.”

Photos showed a smiling al-Swealmeen on days out at a National Trust property near Liverpool and go-karting in 2017.

Mr Hitchcott told the Mail Online that he had little contact with al-Swealmeen after he moved out, but believed he

had enrolled in a college catering course before the coronavirus pandemic.

His wife, Elizabeth Hitchcott, told the BBC she was shocked by the bombing, adding: “We’re just so sad...we just loved him, he was a lovely guy.”

Police declared the explosion a terrorist incident but believe al-Swealmeen’s device may have failed to detonate properly, or could have been set off prematurely by accident.

Investigators said the bomber had been picked up near the Rutland Avenue property and asked to be taken to Liverpool Women’s Hospital.

The blast went off as the taxi approached a drop-off point by the main entrance, and the bomber was killed inside the vehicle while the driver “remarkably” managed to escape.

Liverpool Women’s Hospital is close to the city’s cathedral, where a service of remembrance attended by thousands of military personnel, veterans and members of the public was taking place at the time.

The annual event included a two-minute silence, which is observed nationally on Remembrance Sunday, at 11am followed by a military parade from the cathedral.

Assistant chief constable Russ Jackson, the head of Counter Terror Police North West, previously told a press conference the motivation had not been established.

“Our enquiries indicate that an improvised explosive device has been manufactured and our assumption so far is that this was built by the passenger [al-Swealmeen] in the taxi,” he said.

“The reason why he then took it to the Women's Hospital is unknown, as is the reason for its sudden explosion.

CCTV shows moment of explosion inside taxi outside Liverpool hospital

“We are of course aware that there were remembrance events just a short distance away from the hospital and that the ignition occurred shortly before 11am.

“We cannot at this time draw any connection with this but it is a line of inquiry we are pursuing.”

Four of the bomber’s alleged associates, aged between 20 and 29, were arrested in the Kensington area of Liverpool.

Three were detained at the property where al-Swealmeen lived in Sutcliffe Street, which was also searched by police.

All four men were released from custody without charge on Monday evening.

Police urged the public to remain vigilant but “not alarmed” as the investigation continued, saying there would be increased patrols at some locations.

Officials raised the national terror threat level to severe on Monday afternoon, meaning further attacks are considered “highly likely”.

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