Liverpool bomb: Be alert but not alarmed, says Kit Malthouseon November 16, 2021 at 3:23 pm

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The suspect in the Liverpool attack is understood to be an asylum seeker who converted to Christianity.

Emad al-Swealmeen aka Enzo Almeni (on right in light grey jacket), during a service at Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral, alongside Right Reverend Cyril Ashton Bishop Cyril Ashton today said he had conducted the confirmation of Emad Al Swealmeen in 2017. The 32-year-old was baptised in 2015 after converting to Christianity at Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral. source: Taken from Facebook account of Malcolm Hitchcott

Image source, Malcolm Hitchcott

The public should stay alert but not be alarmed, Home Office minister Kit Malthouse has said after the UK’s terror threat level was raised following the Liverpool bombing.

The suspect – Emad Al Swealmeen, 32 – is understood to be an asylum seeker who converted to Christianity in 2017.

He died when a bomb went off in a taxi outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital.

Police are now examining whether the main charge on the device failed to explode, the BBC has been told.

Counter-terrorism officers are also said to be looking at whether the device was constructed using the homemade explosive triacetone triperoxide or TATP.

TATP has been used in a number of terror attacks, most recently in the UK in 2017 at the Manchester Arena and Parsons Green underground station in London. There are restrictions on the sale of chemicals used to make TATP.

The bombing happened outside the maternity hospital shortly before 11:00 GMT on Remembrance Sunday.

Footage shows the taxi – in which Al Swealmeen was a passenger – in flames, but none of the vehicles close by was damaged. The taxi’s driver, David Perry, escaped before his car caught fire and is now recovering at home.

Police are treating the attack as a terrorist incident but said it could take weeks to establish how the incident was planned and prepared.

Answering an urgent question about the incident in the House of Commons on Tuesday, the government’s crime and policing minister Mr Malthouse said the motivation for the attack was “yet to be understood” and police would publish more details of the attack in due course.

“However, this is a further stark reminder about the threat we all face from terrorism,” he said, adding: “The public should remain alert but not alarmed.”

The security minister Damian Hinds is due to visit Liverpool on Tuesday.

The UK terror threat level was raised from “substantial” to “severe” on Monday, meaning an attack is considered highly likely, because the explosion in Liverpool was the second incident in a month, following the death of Conservative MP Sir David Amess.

One of Counter Terrorism Policing’s senior national co-ordinators, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist, said the change was a “precautionary measure and not based on any specific threat”.

A local couple, Elizabeth and Malcolm Hitchcott told ITV News Al Swealmeen briefly lived with them at their home after his conversion to Christianity.

Mr Hitchcott said Al Swealmeen, who was an asylum seeker from the Middle East, formally converted from Islam at a ceremony in Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral. The cathedral, which was the scene of the city’s main Remembrance Day service on Sunday, is a short distance from Liverpool Women’s Hospital.

He said in the years before the attack Al Swealmeen had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act for about six months because of his behaviour with a knife.

Speaking to the BBC, Mrs Hitchcott said she was “just so sad” and “very shocked” by Sunday’s incident, adding: “We just loved him, he was a lovely guy.”

The Diocese of Liverpool’s communications director, Stuart Haynes, said he believed Al Swealmeen was baptised in 2015 and confirmed in 2017.

The cathedral lost contact with him in 2018, he said.

Bishop of Liverpool Paul Bayes told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he had “no doubt” the Hitchcotts would feel numb.

He said: “So many people of all the different faiths try to reach out in the name of the common good, try to make themselves available for love, and when that’s taken advantage of, or when things happen which subsequently you can’t understand why that’s happened, that does shake you.”

In a statement, Liverpool Cathedral and Diocese said it was shocked and horrified.

“Clearly we cannot speculate on the motivations of this individual.

“However we are clear that the actions of an individual do not reflect a whole community and we remain united with all in the city and country who work for peace as we continue to pray for Liverpool at this time.”

Liverpool Riverside MP Kim Johnson, who asked the urgent question in the Commons, said there had been an increase in hate crime against Muslims in Liverpool following Sunday’s incident.

She told the House of Commons: “Incidents such as these always provoke a spike of race hate. My team have been hearing of incidents where women in hijabs are facing abuse.”

Map showing the incident

On Monday evening, police released without charge four men who had been arrested under terrorism laws in connection with the attack.

Police also said “important evidence” had been found at an address rented by the suspect.

The property at Rutland Avenue near Sefton Park, in the south east of the city – where Al Swealmeen was picked up by the taxi – was “becoming central to the investigation”, Assistant Chief Constable Russ Jackson said.

Another address in Sutcliffe Street in the city, where officers believe Al Swealmeen previously lived, is also part of the investigation.

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