UK police have identified the suspect behind an explosion which left a taxi in flames outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital on Sunday. Police, who have declared the event a terror incident, have named the deceased suspect as Emad Al Swealmeen.
Reports state that he was an asylum seeker from the Middle East, who claimed he had converted from Islam to Christianity after being taken in by a Christian couple in 2017 in Liverpool.
Swealmeen was collected by taxi driver David Perry at a property in the Sefton Park area of the city shortly before 11am on Sunday. He was armed with an explosive device and asked Mr Perry to take him to Liverpool Women’s Hospital, about ten minutes away.
The car exploded just before 11am, the moment used in the UK to remember those who have died in wars on Remembrance Sunday, 11 November – the day used for the planned attack. Reports state that the bomber’s original destination was a Remembrance service at a nearby cathedral.
The terrifying moment was captured by CCTV footage.
🟥 Liverpool taxi blast.
Bomber’s original destination was Remembrance service at nearby cathedral.
Bomb detonated At 10.59.
Join the dots.
— UK1 (@ChannelUK1) November 15, 2021
One expert told i News that the blast “showed all the signs of a sophisticated terrorist attack” but that the explosive device appeared to have only partially detonated. The Times reported that Swealmeen’s bomb contained homemade TATP explosives, a substance which is known as the “Mother of Satan” because it frequently blows up accidentally and was employed in the appalling Paris suicide attacks in 2015 and the Manchester Arena bombing of 2017.
The taxi driver, Mr Perry, has been hailed a hero after it was revealed that he locked the car doors to prevent his passenger from getting out and entering the hospital when he realised he had an explosive device. Boris Johnson praised him for his “incredible presence of mind and bravery” while Mayor of Liverpool, Joanne Anderson, said that “his heroic efforts” meant he “managed to divert what could have been an absolutely awful disaster at the hospital”.
Mr Perry was seen in footage stumbling from the car just after the bomb went off at 10:59am, and mere seconds before the vehicle burst into flames. His wife said it was an “utter miracle” he survived. Incredibly, Mr Perry only suffered minor injuries and was treated in hospital, having now been discharged. He is now recovering at home according to reports.
Meanwhile, police have declared it a terror incident and the national terror threat level has been raised from substantial to severe, meaning that further attacks in Britain are considered “highly likely” in the aftermath of Sunday’s explosion.
Home secretary Priti Patel said that the level had been increased as there had been two attacks in the space of one month.
Addressing broadcasters, she said: “The Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre, Jtac, are now increasing the United Kingdom’s threat level from substantial to severe.
“And there’s a reason for that, and that reason is because what we saw yesterday is the second incident in a month”.
The attack comes exactly a month after the chilling murder of much-loved Conservative MP Sir David Amess, who was stabbed to death in an atrocious attack at his constituency surgery in Essex. That attack was also declared a terrorist incident.
“It is important that the public remains alert to the threat from terrorism but not alarmed,” Ms Patel said.
The threat level is decided by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre, which is spearheaded by MI5, and had been set at substantial since February 2021. It is not believed that Swealmeen was known to security services.
Four men, all in their twenties, who were arrested by police in relation to Sunday’s explosion have been released from custody, the police said late on Monday.