A bomber blew up a homemade explosive device in a taxi outside a Liverpool women’s hospital after his asylum claim was rejected, a police investigation has found.
Emad Al Swealmeen, 32, detonated the device while in a taxi outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital just before 11am on November 14, 2021.
CCTV footage showed how the explosion propelled ball bearings forward through the vehicle to the extent the front windscreen was forced out and travelled 16 metres, where it hit a tree, and damage was caused to the windows of the hospital building.
Taxi driver David Perry managed to escape from the Ford Focus taxi following the blast, which killed Iraqi-born Al Swealmeen.
The bomber spent 20 months planning the attack, which he intended to carry out with makeshift firearms. But when Al Swealmeen’s ‘technical skills fell short’, he turned to bomb-making, a report into the attack revealed.
Photographs show how investigators found two makeshift rifles, magazine clips and 90 dummy cartridges were found hidden beneath floorboards at a house he had shared with other asylum seekers in Liverpool since 2019.
This is the shocking moment a bomber detonated a homemade explosive outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital just before 11am on November 14, 2021
Emad Al Swealmeen, 32, detonated the device while in a taxi outside the hospital. A police investigation has found that the bomber had a grievance against the British state because his asylum claim was rejected
The explosion, captured on hospital CCTV, propelled ball bearings forward through the vehicle to the extent the front windscreen was forced out and travelled 16 metres, where it hit a tree, and damage was caused to the windows of the hospital building. Pictured: Items found in Al Swealmeen’s flat believed to been used to make the device
It was believed Al Swealmeen intended to go into the hospital and detonate the device, but it was likely that it exploded earlier than planned. Pictured: Items found in Al Swealmeen’s flat believed to have been used to make the device
Al Swealmeen abandoned his plan to use makeshift firearms in the attack after being unable to get them to work, anti-terror officers revealed.
Using ingredients he bought under a false name, Al Swealmeen later built an explosive device in a flat he rented. He bought the supplies with cash for the ‘sole purpose’ of building the bomb, the report said.
It was from that property – where he kept a prayer mat and Qur’an – that he was collected by Mr Perry, who worked for a local private hire firm, and asked to be taken to the hospital.
Al Swealmeen died when his bomb detonated ‘earlier than planned’ in the taxi just before 11am on Remembrance Sunday 2021.
The device was intended ‘to inflict multiple casualties’ and contained ‘several hundred’ ball bearings, police said. It propelled the taxi’s windscreen 16 metres into the air, while shrapnel peppered the hospital frontage.
A police investigation has found that Al Swealmeen had a grievance against the British state because his asylum claim was rejected.
Detective Superintendent Andy Meeks, of Counter Terrorism Policing North West, told a briefing today that it was believed Al Swealmeen intended to go into the hospital and detonate the device, but it was likely that it exploded earlier than planned.
Mr Meeks said it was ‘extremely fortunate’ Mr Perry escaped and the forecourt was deserted. He claimed the fact Al Swealmeen sat in the taxi’s near-side rear seat instead of behind Mr Perry, with the bomb detonating directly forwards, may have saved the driver.
The report added the bomber’s motivation was ‘most likely… grievance against the British state for failing to accept his asylum claim compounded by mental ill-health’.
A police report on the investigation said there was no evidence Al Swealmeen held extremist views.
Mr Meeks added: ‘There are lots of gaps in our information unfortunately and the only person who knows the answers to those questions is Al Swealmeen, who obviously died during the incident, so we’ll probably never truly know exactly why he did it or what his intentions were.’
The investigator said there was ‘no evidence he had been radicalised’ or that others were involved.
The report added: ‘It seems most likely that Al Swealmeen’s grievance against the British state for failing to accept his asylum claim compounded his mental ill health which in turn fed that grievance and ultimately a combination of those factors led him to undertake the attack.’
Al Swealmeen, who was born in Iraq, went to considerable lengths to stay in the country, including converting to Christianity, although the authenticity of his conversion was in doubt, Mr Meeks added.
Police also found three mobil phones in the bomber’s flat that had been wiped clean using ‘specialist software to conceal his activities and cover his tracks’.
Emad Al Swealmeen, 32, detonated the device, which he had made himself, while in a taxi outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital just before 11am on November 14, 2021
Al Swealmeen arrived in the UK several years ago, and mostly lived in Liverpool, where he was being supported by Christian volunteers from a network of churches who help asylum seekers
Driver David Perry managed to escape from the Ford Focus taxi following the blast, which killed Al Swealmeen. The car is seen being taken away
Police outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital after the explosion in November 2021
An aerial view of the scene outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital following the blast
Al Swealmeen, who relocated from Iraq to Jordan in the 1990s, came to the UK in 2014, having applied for a visa in Abu Dhabi claiming he wanted to travel for a holiday and to watch the filming of Britain’s Got Talent in Belfast.
He falsely claimed to be a Syrian national when interviewed by Home Office officials but his asylum claim was rejected.
Mr Meeks said Al Swealmeen began a conversion to Christianity in 2015, when his asylum appeal rights were exhausted, and was baptised at Liverpool Cathedral in November that year.
He forwarded letters of support from members of the church community to the Home Office to support his asylum claim in 2017.
In January 2020, a further asylum claim was rejected on the basis that he had not truly accepted the Christian faith and rejected others.
Mr Meeks said Al Swealmeen’s deterioration in mental health coincided with developments in his asylum case. He was detained by police under the Mental Health Act in 2015 and was later sectioned.
Police found Al Swealmeen rented a flat in Rutland Avenue with the ‘sole purpose’ of building the bomb.
Police found Al Swealmeen rented a flat with the ‘sole purpose’ of building the bomb
Officers discovered mixing bowls and bags of explosive mixture inside the flat, along with a mobile phone containing instructions on how to make explosives.
A search of his other address, which he shared with other asylum claimants in Sutcliffe Street, uncovered two unfinished improvised firearms.
Police found contents of mobile phones belonging to Al Swealmeen had been largely erased and he took precautions to conceal his intentions.
The report said: ‘Consequently, we will never truly know why Al Swealmeen took the actions that he did that led to the explosion outside the Liverpool Women’s Hospital.’