Emad al-Swealmeen: suspect in Liverpool attack was Christian convert

A suspected terrorist who blew himself up outside Liverpool Women’s hospital at the weekend has been named as 32-year-old Emad al-Swealmeen.

Counter Terrorism Policing North West said they “strongly believe” al-Swealmeen was the passenger who died when a taxi exploded shortly before 11am on Sunday. According to reports, al-Swealmeen is believed not to be British-born and to have had Syrian and Iraqi heritage.

He is said to have converted to Christianity after moving to the UK from the Middle East and was later briefly taken in by Christian volunteers Malcolm and Elizabeth Hitchcott in Liverpool.

Al-Swealmeen had changed his name by deed poll to Enzo Almeni, in honour of Italian race car legend Enzo Ferrari, to sound more western on his asylum application, which subsequently failed in 2014, Hitchcott told the Daily Mail.

Hitchcott told the newspaper: “He first came to the cathedral in August 2015 and wanted to convert to Christianity. 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 least March 2017, just before he came to live with us. He was destitute at that time and we took him in.”

Pictures posted on Hitchcott’s Facebook profile showed the suspect smiling and posing alongside the couple during a walk a few years prior, including a picture showing al-Swealmeen during a service at Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral.

Speaking to the BBC, Elizabeth Hitchcott said: “We’re just so, so sad. We just loved him, he was a lovely guy,” adding she and her husband were “very” shocked by the incident.

A photo of Emad al-Swealmeen posted on Hitchcott’s Facebook.
A photo of Emad al-Swealmeen posted on Hitchcott’s Facebook. Photograph: Malcolm Hitchcott/Facebook

Searches are under way at the Rutland Avenue address and a second address in Sutcliffe Street, which officers have said al-Swealmeen previously lived at, and police said they had recovered “significant items”.

“We continue to appeal for any information about this incident and now that we have released his name any information that the public may have about al-Swealmeen, no matter how small, may be of great assistance to us.”

Detectives have declared it a terrorist attack but said the motive was unclear.

Official sources previously confirmed to the PA news agency the suspect was not previously known to the security services.

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