Liverpool Bomber Was Practicing Muslim Despite Reported Conversion to Christianity: UK Coroner

By Alexander Zhang
Alexander Zhang
Alexander Zhang
December 30, 2021 Updated: December 30, 2021

The terrorist attacker who died in the Remembrance Sunday bomb blast in Liverpool had remained a “follower of Islam” despite his reported conversion to Christianity, a British coroner said on Thursday.

Emad Al Swealmeen, 32, died in the blast in a taxi outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital shortly before 11 a.m. on Nov. 14. The taxi driver, David Perry, managed to escape after the blast.

At the inquest at Liverpool and Wirral Coroner’s Court, senior coroner Andre Rebello said that Al Swealmeen “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,” said Rebello, adding, “It remains unclear as to whether he intended the device to detonate when it did.”

The inquest heard that Iraq-born Al Swealmeen arrived in the UK legally in May 2014 with a Jordanian passport and UK visa. He falsely claimed to be of Syrian heritage in asylum applications, which were rejected.

Al Swealmeen has been referred to as a “Christian convert” in some UK media reports, as he was baptised at Liverpool Cathedral in 2015 and confirmed in 2017.

But according to Rebello, the coroner, “When premises were searched both a Holy Koran and prayer mat were present and it was fairly evident that he carried out the religious duties of someone who is a follower of Islam, notwithstanding the reported conversion to Christianity.”

Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Meeks, the senior investigating officer in the case, agreed that the conversion could have been intended to strengthen his asylum claim “because he would claim he’d be liable to persecution on return to Syria or Iraq.”

Al Swealmeen lived at accommodation provided by the Home Office, but since April had rented a self-contained flat in Rutland Avenue, where he paid the rent monthly in cash, the coroner’s 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.

A few days after the blast, Home Secretary Priti Patel said Al Swealmeen had been able to stay in the UK by exploiting the country’s “dysfunctionalimmigration system.

Patel, who was on a visit to Washington, D.C., said the UK’s asylum system was a “complete merry-go-round” with a “whole industry” devoted to defending the rights of individuals intent on causing harm.

PA contributed to this report.