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Liverpool Women's Hospital suicide bomber who lied about converting to Christianity

in bid to claim asylum was practising Muslim with Koran and prayer mat, inquest hears


Emad Al Swealmeen (pictured), 32, started building a bomb factory at a rented bedsit as early as April, according to police

Emad Al Swealmeen (pictured), 32, started building a bomb factory at a rented bedsit as early as April, according to police

The Liverpool Women's Hospital bomber lied about converting to Christianity and was a practising Muslim, an inquest has heard.    

Iraqi-born Emad Al Swealmeen, 32, died from an explosion and subsequent fire when his device detonated in the Ford Focus Delta Taxi as it pulled up outside the hospital shortly before 11am on November 14. 

The driver, David Perry, managed to escape the blast - which was captured on hospital CCTV.

Al Swealmeen had falsely claimed to be of Syrian heritage in asylum applications and was still a practising Muslim despite apparently converting to Christianity, an inquest at Liverpool and Wirral Coroner's Court was told on Thursday.  

Asked if he may have converted to strengthen his asylum claim, Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Meeks from Counter Terrorism Policing North West said: 'I'd agree with that because he would claim he'd be liable to persecution on return to Syria or Iraq.'

The inquest heard a Holy Koran and prayer mat were found when police searched his premises. 

Senior coroner Andre Rebello said Al Swealmeen's brother, who lives in America and was not named in court, said he had spoken to him on Friday, November 12, two days before the bomb went off.

Mr Rebello told the inquest: 'He says towards the end of call Emad said something like ''if I do something bad that will affect the family what do you think?''

'He replied something like ''don't do s**t'', advising him as an older brother, although this was something which caused him concern, knowing his previous issues.'

Emad Al Swealmeen, 32, detonated a homemade bomb outside the hospital just before 11am on November 14, killing himself and injuring taxi driver David Perry

He said Al Swealmeen, born in Baghdad, Iraq, had been in prison in the Middle East for a serious assault on another person, as well as being in trouble in Liverpool previously for possession of an offensive weapon. 

After moving to Britain he lived at Home Office-provided accommodation in Sutcliffe Street, in the Kensington area of Liverpool, but since April had rented a self-contained flat in Rutland Avenue, where he paid the rent monthly in cash, the court was told.

The inquest heard the flat was used as a 'bomb-making factory', and financial investigations showed Al Swealmeen had been purchasing materials likely to be used in the manufacture of improvised firearms or home-made explosives, including 2,000 ball bearings. 

Mr Rebello recorded a narrative conclusion and said: 'It is clear from the evidence even beyond the balance of probabilities this device could have only been manufactured with murderous intent, fortunately there was only one victim.'

He added: 'One thing that struck me was this lone actor from a disrupted family, with a bit of a chaotic background, could well have killed many, many innocent people and there doesn't appear to have been any opportunity to have detected this was about to happen.

'It is something that has been planned over many, many months.

'Clearly, from what he said to the family, he had something in mind and yet this was hidden from everybody.' 

Mr Rebello added: 'It was fairly evident that he carried out the religious duties of someone who is a follower of Islam, not withstanding the reported conversion to Christianity.'

The bombing came shortly before 11am on Remembrance Sunday, not far from a nearby church service attended by hundreds of people at Liverpool Cathedral.

Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Meeks confirmed Al Swealmeen was not on the radar of security services.

Mr Rebello said: 'It just shows how everyone needs to be very vigilant about anything of this nature with regard to nipping anything in the bud.'

The coroner said police still did not know what Al Swealmeen's intention had been.

Recording his conclusion the coroner told the inquest: 'On November 14 2021 Emad Jamil Salman Al Swealmeen died in a taxi in front of Liverpool Women's Hospital.

In an aerial view, the scene of the car explosion at Liverpool Women's Hospital is seen on November 17, 2021
In an aerial view, the scene of the car explosion at Liverpool Women's Hospital is seen on November 17, 2021

'He died from an explosion and subsequent fire caused by an improvised explosive device which he had carried into the taxi.

'It is found he manufactured the improvised explosive device, designed to project shrapnel, with murderous intent.'

He added: 'It remains unclear as to whether he intended the device to detonate when it did.' 

The inquest heard Emad Al Swealmeen came to the country legally in May 2014 with a Jordanian passport and UK visa.

Senior coroner Andre Rebello said: 'Shortly after his arrival he claimed, it is believed falsely, that he was of Syrian heritage and claimed asylum as a refugee from that country.'

He said that claim and all subsequent claims for asylum were refused, with the latest refusal in November 2020.

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