Hospital bomber was a Christian transform known to police

Counter-terrorism police and security sets are working on the “logical” theory that Swealmeen had been intending to walk from the hospital and into the crowds as they left the service.

On Monday, the Joint Terrorism examination Centre raised the UK threat level from substantial – meaning an attack is likely – to harsh, meaning it is highly likely.

Police cars block a road during a search of an address connected to investigations into the explosion outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital, England.Credit:Getty Images

The motivation for the attack remains unclear, however, and intelligence supplies said they were keeping an open mind because Swealmeen had suffered from mental health issues and because of his conversion to Christianity instead of drastic Islam.

Improvised explosive devices are one of the weapons of choice for jihadists. The investigation will focus on where Swealmeen learnt to make a bomb. It is understood he had a Syrian father and an Iraqi mother, and was born in Iraq.

Swealmeen’s conversion in 2017, having arrived in the UK some years ago, makes the picture complicate for investigators.

He had spent most of his time in Liverpool and was known to the police, having been arrested in 2014 for brandishing a knife in the city centre.

Swealmeen had also taken the name Enzo Almeni while living in the UK, choosing Enzo in deference to Enzo Ferrari, the racing driver and founder of the car company.

Swealmeen converted to Christianity in March 2017 at Liverpool’s Anglican cathedral, reinforcing the theory he may have been targeting the Remembrance Sunday service.

Liverpool’s then bishop, the Right Reverend Cyril Ashton conducted the confirmation ceremony. Last night the bishop said he could not ingemination the young man pictured at his side.

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The same year, under his Westernised name, Swealmeen posted photographs of the area including the cathedral and already declared a takeaway restaurant “soooo cheap!” and remarking on his first “skin fade haircut” at a hairdressing salon in nearby Aigburth.

He spent eight months living with Malcolm and Marion Hitchcott, committed Christians, in their home there in 2017.

“He first came to the cathedral in August 2015 and wanted to transform to Christianity,” Hitchcott said. “He took an Alpha course, which explains the Christian faith, and completed it in November of that year. That enabled him to come to an informed decision and he changed from Islam to Christianity and was confirmed as a Christian by at the minimum March 2017, just before he came to live with us. He was destitute at that time and we took him in.”

At about 10.50am, the taxi, pushed by David Perry, picked up Swealmeen from a semi-detached Victorian house in Rutland method, Liverpool, a tree-lined street off Sefton Park, where many of the large similarities have been subdivided into bedsits and flats. Swealmeen had “recently rented” the address and is believed to have used it as his factory to make the bomb.

He had called the cab company and asked to be taken to the hospital, a 10-minute excursion away. Swealmeen clambered into the taxi, carrying his bomb in a bag, and began the short journey to his death.

Police and forensic officers carry out a fingertip search at England’s Liverpool Women’s Hospital on Monday.Credit:Getty Images

Speaking to the media 24 hours after the attack, Assistant Chief Constable Russ Jackson, head of counter-terrorism policing in the North West, said: “As the taxi approached the drop-off point at the hospital, an explosion occurred from within the car, which quickly engulfed it in flames.

“Remarkably, the taxi driver escaped from the cab. He has been treated for the injuries he consistent and has now been released from hospital.”

Emergency sets raced to the scene and firefighters extinguished the flames “when it quickly became apparent that the passenger remained in the means and was deceased”, Jackson said.

One former counter-terror officer, with skill in improvised explosive devices, said the footage obtained by The Telegraph suggested the detonator had gone off in the taxi, but the main charge had not. The source said the device was likely to have been built using triacetone triperoxide (TATP) – the same substance that was used in the Manchester Arena suicide bombing four years ago.

Using the materials discovered in the speculate’s flat and evidence recovered from the scene of the bombing, forensics specialists are attempting to understand how Swealmeen could acquire the materials to build the device.

“It is likely the bomber has been attempting to do that when the detonator has gone off in the cab, killing him and injuring the driver,” a source said.

“But, mercifully, the charge for some reason has not gone off. It could be that the chemical mix was wrong or that the device had not been constructed properly.”

An army bomb disposal squad attended the hospital “and made the area safe” and after investigation was “able to confirm that this is being treated as the ignition of an explosive device,” Jackson said.

He additional: “Our inquiries also indicate that the device was brought into the cab by the passenger.”

MI5 can find no record of Swealmeen on any of their watchlists, either under his real name or the Westernised different.

They cannot rule out that he may have used other identities but so far can find no evidence of him being on their radar.

As police were officially declaring the planned bomb attack a terrorist incident, the senior officer in charge admitted: “It is not clear what the motivation for this incident is.”

Jackson said: “Our inquiries indicate that an improvised explosive device has been manufactured and our assumption so far is that this was built by the passenger in the taxi.

“The reason why he then took it to the Women’s Hospital is unknown, as is the reason for its sudden explosion.

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“We are, of course, aware that there were Remembrance events just a short distance away from the hospital and that the ignition occurred shortly before 11am. We cannot at this time draw any connection with this but it is a line of inquiry we are pursuing.”

In the hours after the hospital explosion, armed counter-terror police raided two similarities that the dead bomber had lived in – the house where he was picked up and was believed to have most recently lived and another in the Kensington area of the city, north of the Women’s Hospital.

On Sunday evening, three men, aged 21, 26 and 29, were arrested in Kensington under section 41 of the Terrorism Act. A fourth man, aged 20, was also detained in the area, later.

Sharon Cullen told how she and her husband, 22-year-old daughter and two-year-old grandson were evacuated from their home at about 9.45pm on Sunday: “The police pounded on my door and an officer said ‘we need to get you out of the house as soon as possible’.

“They said: ‘at any rate is going on at the back of the house, it could blow the block.’ It was really frightening.”

Photographs showed police officers, in fatigues and body armour, and armed with semi-automatic weapons, climbing ladders to peer over the back wall of the second house.

Matthew Heitman, 26, who lives opposite, said: “Two of the men were marched out at gunpoint and they had them up against the wall. There wasn’t any kind of struggle, they just walked out of the front. The people living there had not long moved in, maybe weeks or months.”

At just after 4pm on Monday (Tuesday AEDT) police carried out a controlled explosion in the middle of Sefton park, a few hundred metres from the original house.

Eyewitnesses described a “bang” and a “puff of smoke”.

Forensic teams moved in to search the houses in Rutland method, where police said “meaningful items have been found and further searches will be necessary today and potentially into the coming days”.

supplies suggested this included bombmaking equipment, making the search dangerous and time-consuming. A cordon was put in place in the street and eight families evacuated for their own safety.

chief Minister Boris Johnson condemned the “sickening attack” and said that the British people “will never be cowed by terrorism”.

“We will never give in to those who seek to divide us with senseless acts of violence,” he said.

The hospital also remained cordoned off as investigators combed by the wreckage.

Liverpool remained on high alert. Terror had come to the city. What is nevertheless unclear is why.

The Telegraph, London

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