Counter-terrorism police in the United Kingdom have named Emad al Swealmeen, a rejected asylum seeker from the Middle East, as the suspected terrorist who detonated a homemade bomb outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital.
Emad al-Swealmeen, a 32-year-old Iraqi national whose initial asylum application had been rejected in 2014, is believed to have blown himself up with a homemade device outside a maternity hospital in Liverpool on Sunday, prompting the UK’s terrorism threat level to be raised from “substantial” to “severe,” the BBC reports.
Home Secretary Priti Patel says al-Swealmeen exploited the UK’s “dysfunctional asylum system” to remain in the country.
The case is “a complete reflection of how dysfunctional, how broken, the system has been in the past, and why I want to bring changes forward,” Patel, who’s presently on a three-day visit to Washington, told members of the press.
Al-Swealmeen was a passenger in a taxi when his homemade bomb detonated outside of the maternity hospital shortly before 11:00 a.m. on Remembrance Sunday, a day which commemorates British military and civilian servicemen and women in the two World Wars.
A post-mortem examination found that the 32-year-old Iraqi died from injuries caused by the blast.
“Our inquiries are very much ongoing but at this stage, we strongly believe that the deceased is 32-year-old Emad al Swealmeen,” Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Meeks, from Counter Terrorism Police North West, said during a press conference.
Although four men, aged 29, 26, 21, and 21, were arrested under the Terrorism Act in the Kensington area of Liverpool following the blast, they were released without charge on Monday evening.
Commenting on the arrests, Assistant Chief Constable Russ Jackson said, “Following interviews with the arrested men, we are satisfied with the accounts they have provided, and they have been released from police custody.”
“It is likely to be some time, perhaps many weeks until we are confident on our understanding of what has taken place,” Jackson told the press, adding that the authorities have “considerable resources and staff deployed to understand how this device was built and who, if anyone, else was involved.”
According to Jackson, Al-Swealmeen had been planning the terrorist attack since April.
“We know that al-Swealmeen rented the property from April this year, and we believe relevant purchases have been made at least since that time,” Jackson said a statement.
“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,” he added.
Despite having been arrested in 2014 for possessing a “large knife” after his asylum claim was rejected, al-Swealmeen had not been known to MI5, which in 2020 was aware of more than 43,000 individuals pose a potential terrorist threat to the UK. Following his arrest, al-Swealmeen was ordered by the state to spend several months in an institution for mentally ill patients.