Liverpool explosion: What do we know about terror suspect Emad Al Swealmeen?

ITV News Northern Reporter Hannah Miller on what more we know about the Liverpool bombing suspect  

The suspected terrorist who blew himself up in a taxi with a homemade bomb outside Liverpool's women hospital on Sunday was a Christian convert who reportedly had an asylum claim rejected in 2014. 

Emad Al Swealmeen, 32, was an asylum seeker who arrived in the UK at least seven years ago.

He had been baptised in 2015 and confirmed in 2017, but lost contact with the church in 2018, according to a cathedral spokesman.

Al Swealmeen lived with a Christian couple after he converted in 2017 - they told ITV News he had previously struggled with his mental health, but they had no doubt of his faith.

In 2018, he then enrolled on a nine month cake decorating course at The City of Liverpool College.

What happened in the next two years to lead to the explosion outside Liverpool Women’s hospital remains unclear.

  • CCTV from outside a Liverpool hospital shows the moment an explosion ripped through a taxi

This video contains distressing images

ITV News understands that Al-Swealmeen had been receiving help from a local asylum charity until as recently as April, when he asked for help with clothing.

It’s believed his asylum status was still pending at the time of his death. The charity that gave him the clothes said something had gone "dreadfully wrong".

  • Ewan Roberts from charity Asylum Link said the group is "struggling to come to terms" with the terrorist attack

The Bishop who baptised Al Swealmeen, Cyril Ashton, said he had been left shocked by the events.

He told ITV News: "His confirmation was one of hundreds I have conducted as a bishop, so I have no specific recollection of the individual. The church takes confirmation seriously and I know that he would have been thoroughly prepared with an understanding of the Christian faith.

"It seems that, sadly, despite this grounding, the bomber chose a different path for his life."

Police, who are being assisted by MI5 in the investigation, said "significant progress" had been made but it could take "many weeks" before they fully understand what happened and what the motivation was.

Though the current understanding is still that the hospital was the intended target.

(PA Graphics) Credit: PA Graphics

The incident has been declared a terrorist attack and the UK terror threat level has since been raised from substantial to severe, meaning an attack is "highly likely" rather than "likely".

Searches have been carried out at an address in Rutland Avenue, where detectives said Al Swealmeen was picked up by the taxi, and a second property in Sutcliffe Street, where officers believe he previously lived.Four men arrested under terrorism laws have now been released from police custody without charge.

Police are continuing to appeal for any information about the incident or the suspected attacker.