The suspected terrorist who was killed when his homemade bomb exploded in a taxi outside a British hospital had planned the attack for at least seven months — and appears to have acted alone, police said Wednesday.
Emad Al Swealmeen, 32, died when the explosion ripped through the taxi as it pulled up outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital on Sunday morning.
The quick-thinking cabbie, who reportedly locked Al Swealmeen inside the vehicle, escaped with minor injuries.
The failed asylum seeker, who suffered from bouts of mental illness, rented a property in the city in April and had made “relevant purchases” for his bomb since “at least” that time, said Russ Jackson, who heads counterterrorism policing in northwest England.
“A complex picture is emerging over the purchases of the component parts of the device,” Jackson said. “We have now traced a next of kin for Al Swealmeen who has informed us that he was born in Iraq.”
The police official added that investigators believe Al Swealmeen had plotted for the attack on his own.
“At this time we are not finding any link to others in the Merseyside area of concern but this remains a fast-moving investigation and as more becomes known we cannot rule out action against others,” Jackson said, the Guardian reported.
Al Swealmeen applied for asylum in Britain in 2014, but was rejected, according to authorities, who confirmed that he had been treated in the past for mental illness.
“Our inquiries have found that al-Swealmeen has had episodes of mental illness. This will form part of the investigation and will take some time to fully understand,” Jackson said.
Al Swealmeen was taken in by Elizabeth and Malcolm Hitchcott, a Christian volunteer couple, for eight months from 2017 as his appeal for refugee status played out.
Elizabeth Hitchcott told the BBC she felt “just so sad” and “very shocked” by Sunday’s incident, adding: “We just loved him, he was a lovely guy.”
Investigators are still seeking to determine a motive for his botched attack and whether the Liverpool Women’s Hospital was the intended target.
Clergy at two local churches said Al Swealmeen had converted from Islam to Christianity and appeared to be sincere in his faith.
Joy Gambardella, a lay reader at the Emmanuel Church, said he had been a “committed Christian.”
“He used to love baking and he did a baking course. He also did pizza-making,” Gambardella said. “He used to make cakes for the church and sell them. I would never, ever expect he could have done something like that, ever.”
Meanwhile, the taxi driver, David Perry, 45, was interviewed for 90 minutes Tuesday about the incident, the Mirror reported.
He has been hailed as a hero after he apparently locked Al Swealmeen in the vehicle before the bomb exploded inside.
A source close to Perry told the news outlet that the bomber only spoke two words — “Women’s hospital” — after getting inside the cab for the seven-minute car trip shortly before 11 a.m. on Remembrance Sunday.
Perry was briefly knocked out by the force of the blast.
“He woke up leaning on the steering wheel. He was trapped and then saw flames coming through the two seats,” the source said. “He couldn’t get his seatbelt off so had to climb out of it.”
With Post wires