Liverpool hospital bomber had asylum claim grievance, police inquiry finds | Liverpool

A man who blew himself up outside a women’s hospital in Liverpool had poor mental health and bore a grudge against the state because his asylum claim was rejected, a police investigation has said.

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 14 November 2021.

David Perry, the driver of the taxi, managed to escape after the blast, which killed Swealmeen. The explosion, captured on hospital CCTV, propelled ball bearings through the Ford Focus car, launching the front windscreen 16 metres, where it hit a tree and damaged windows of the hospital building.

Det Supt Andy Meeks, of counter-terrorism policing north-west, said on Monday it was believed Swealmeen intended to go into the hospital and detonate the device. It was likely that it exploded earlier than planned. He said there was no evidence anyone else was involved in the attack.

A police report said there was no evidence Swealmeen held extremist views. It said: “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.”

Meeks said 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.

Swealmeen, who moved 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.

Meeks said 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 he had not truly accepted the Christian faith and rejected others.

Meeks said 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.

Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, commenting on the findings of the report into the Liverpool hospital bombing, said: “Swealmeen remained in the UK for six years following the rejection of his asylum claim. The home secretary needs to explain why the Conservative Home Office repeatedly failed to remove him as part of the collapse in returns, and also why there were such long delays in the system.”

Officers discovered mixing bowls and bags of explosive mixture inside his flat in Rutland Avenue, 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 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.”


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