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Smiling for the camera, Emad Al Swealmeen looks like just another happy young man posing for social media snaps.

But the go-karting fanatic and budding pizza chef would go on to become a suicide bomber.

Born in Iraq and brought up in Syria, Al Swealmeen, 32, came to Britain seven years ago. He had a history of mental health problems, and was once sectioned for brandishing a knife near Liverpool’s city centre, friends said.

He relinquished his Muslim faith and converted to Christianity soon after arriving in the UK, having attended Bible classes and services at Liverpool’s imposing Anglican Cathedral. 

The site was originally thought to have been the target of his failed Remembrance Day plot.

In May 2017 Al Swealmeen changed his name by deed poll to make it easier to pronounce. In tribute to Ferrari founder Enzo Ferrari, the car-mad asylum seeker became Enzo Almeni. 

Pictures online show trips to a go-kart track – and a chequered flag tattooed on his arm.

In May 2017 Al Swealmeen changed his name by deed poll to make it easier to pronounce. In tribute to Ferrari founder Enzo Ferrari, the car-mad asylum seeker became Enzo Almeni

In May 2017 Al Swealmeen changed his name by deed poll to make it easier to pronounce. In tribute to Ferrari founder Enzo Ferrari, the car-mad asylum seeker became Enzo Almeni

In May 2017 Al Swealmeen changed his name by deed poll to make it easier to pronounce. In tribute to Ferrari founder Enzo Ferrari, the car-mad asylum seeker became Enzo Almeni

The 32-year-old was a regular at the go-kart track, according to social media photos

The 32-year-old was a regular at the go-kart track, according to social media photos

The 32-year-old was a regular at the go-kart track, according to social media photos

Who was Enzo Ferrari? 

A legendary motoring entrepreneur, Enzo Ferrari was a racing driver who went on to establish the legendary car company which took his name.

In his racing career, he clinched 11 grand prix victories in the 1920s for Alfa Romeo.

After the birth of his son in 1932, he decided to retire and to focus instead on the management and development of the factory Alfa race cars, eventually building up a team of superstar drivers.

Following the outbreak of World War Two, Ferrari’s factory was forced to undertake war production for Mussolini’s fascist government. 

The factory was bombed by the Allies during the conflict and Ferrari was forced to relocate from Modena to Maranello.

At the end of the war, Ferrari decided to start making cars bearing his name, and founded Ferrari S.p.A. in 1947.

The company has since become a household name, with more than 200,000 Ferrari cars being sold.

The entrepreneur died on 14 August 1988 in Maranello at the age of 90. No cause of death was given.

His life has since been depicted on screen in a number of biopics, with one planned to star Hollywood legend Robert De Niro. 

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The son of an Iraqi mother and Syrian father, he arrived in the UK in early 2014. His first application to the Home Office for asylum was turned down that November. He was arrested soon afterwards, lay pastor and friend Malcolm Hitchcott said, for possession of a ‘large knife’.

Al Swealmeen had regularly attended ‘instruction’ workshops and Bible study courses led by Mr Hitchcott at the cathedral. 

It was there that he was confirmed into Christianity in a ceremony attended by Mr Hitchcott and his wife, Elizabeth, on March 27, 2017. 

Days later the devout couple, both 77, offered to put up the then-destitute Al Swealmeen in their home rent-free as he had nowhere else to live.

Last night a shocked Mr Hitchcott said he felt ‘numbed’ that the ‘lovely man’ who stayed with him in the suburb of Aigburth was behind Sunday’s explosion. 

‘My wife and I will now have to try to come to terms with this, the fact we had this man living with us for eight months,’ the former soldier said. 

The men would go for walks, where the typically quiet Al Swealmeen would ‘talk endlessly and passionately about Jesus’. 

Asked why he thought Al Swealmeen converted to Christianity, Mr Hitchcott said: ‘A lot of asylum seekers do not see much in Islam [for them].’

He said he and his wife got to know Al Swealmeen ‘very well… or we thought we did’.

Their guest left on good terms after eight months. The Hitchcotts, who were going on holiday, worried about him being alone in their home. ‘We told him he could stay and our daughter would pop in, but he decided to leave,’ Mrs Hitchcott said.

The couple cannot recall Al Swealmeen ever speaking of anything ‘political’, and remember only one ‘flashpoint’.

Mr Hitchcott said: ‘He was involved in an incident prior to our meeting where he was found by police with a pretty big knife on the main Churchill Way flyover.

‘I don’t know if he threatened anyone but as a result of that he was sectioned for several months.

‘He obviously had some mental instability because one day he accused me of opening his mail. He came in and said, ‘Is there something you want to know about me’, and accused me. I told him we wouldn’t dream of it. He did come and apologise afterwards.

‘He had received a small package, he told me it was something for a friend of his… makes me wonder about it now. He obviously didn’t want me poking my nose in and got very sensitive. Otherwise we were on the best of terms with him.

‘If we wanted a job doing he would do it, no problem.’

Online pictures show that the car enthusiast also had a chequered flag tattoo on his arm

Online pictures show that the car enthusiast also had a chequered flag tattoo on his arm

Online pictures show that the car enthusiast also had a chequered flag tattoo on his arm

Mrs Hitchcott said Al Swealmeen would go to the food bank with them and do chores around the house. ‘He was fairly private but very industrious,’ she added. ‘He loved to draw, he was very interested in art and could cook a mean pizza.’

Photos on Mr Hitchcott’s web profiles show Al Swealmeen in chef’s whites bought for him by his hosts.

While Mr Hitchcott hadn’t seen Al Swealmeen for several years, his wife bumped into him two years ago in the town centre.

‘It must have been around spring 2019 because it was before Covid,’ she said.

‘He told me he was doing a cake decorating course, he was really enthusiastic about it. He said he would keep in touch but I didn’t hear any more.’

EXCLUSIVE: ‘We’re numb… there was nothing to suggest he would become radicalised’: Christian couple who opened their home to asylum seeker who converted from Islam tell of their shock after he blew himself up at Liverpool maternity hospital

Emad Jamil Al Swealmeen, 32, was killed after a homemade ball-bearing device exploded inside a taxi he rode to Liverpool Women's Hospital on Remembrance Sunday just seconds before the 11am minute's silence

Emad Jamil Al Swealmeen, 32, was killed after a homemade ball-bearing device exploded inside a taxi he rode to Liverpool Women's Hospital on Remembrance Sunday just seconds before the 11am minute's silence

Emad Jamil Al Swealmeen, 32, was killed after a homemade ball-bearing device exploded inside a taxi he rode to Liverpool Women’s Hospital on Remembrance Sunday just seconds before the 11am minute’s silence 

A Christian couple who opened their home to the Liverpool suicide bomber for eight months after he converted from Islam told of their shock last night after learning he launched a suicide bomb attack at the city’s Women’s Hospital. 

Enzo Almeni, 32, was killed after a homemade ball-bearing device exploded inside a taxi he rode to Liverpool Women’s Hospital just seconds before the 11am minute’s silence.

Almeni, a failed asylum seeker with Syrian and Iraqi heritage who changed his name by deed poll from Emad Jamil Al Swealmeen to sound more Western, fled the Middle East several years ago and converted from Islam to Christianity in 2017 at the cathedral it is believed he wanted to attack.

He spent most of his time in the UK in Liverpool, and spent eight months living with devout Christians Malcolm and Elizabeth Hitchcott at their home in Aigburth.

Last night Mr Hitchcott, a former British Army soldier, said he felt ‘numbed’ to learn that the ‘lovely man’ who lived at his home for eight months was behind the plot. ‘It’s almost too impossible to believe,’ he told the Daily Mail. ‘There was nothing to suggest he could go on to become radicalised.’ 

He said Almeni had been arrested for possession of a ‘large knife’ after the rejection of his asylum claim in 2014, resulting in him being sectioned under the Mental Health Act and hospitalised for several months.

The couple described their ‘shock’ that Almeni – a ‘very quiet fellow’ – would try to commit an act of terror, telling ITV News they lived ‘cheek by jowl’ when he stayed with them at their home and that there was ‘never any suggestion of anything amiss’.

A tearful Mrs Hitchcott told the broadcaster: ‘What a waste of a life. But the one thing I suppose to be thankful for is that he did not kill anyone else.’ 

Mr Hitchcott said Almeni rejected Islam and converted to Christianity and was baptised and confirmed in Liverpool Cathedral in March 2017. 

‘He first came to the cathedral in August 2015 and wanted to convert to Christianity,’ Mr Hitchcott told MailOnline. ‘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.’

It is thought Almeni had wanted to attack the cathedral on Remembrance Sunday as 1,200 military personnel, veterans and families of the fallen gathered to observe the minute’s silence – but that traffic and road closures stopped him from getting there. It is believed he died after being locked in a cab by Mr Perry as it exploded into a fireball outside the hospital. 

Detectives and MI5 spies are investigating whether the bombing was an Islamist-inspired attack. Security sources said Almeni’s mental health problems were ‘a key line of inquiry’ in understanding his motivation.   

Police said Almeni was picked up in the Rutland Avenue area of the city. As the car reached the hospital’s passenger drop-off point, it exploded. 

Police said he had been living at a hostel for asylum seekers  – run by private contracting giant Serco – in Sutcliffe Street, Liverpool, ‘for some time’ before renting a ‘bomb factory’ two miles away in Rutland Avenue. 

Four men arrested under terrorism laws in the Kensington area of Liverpool – three aged 21, 26 and 29, who were held on Sunday, and a man aged 20 who was detained on Monday – have now been released from police custody following interview, Counter Terrorism Police North West said on Monday night. MI5 is assisting police with the investigation. 

Meanwhile, forensic officers continued the delicate task of searching the ‘bomb factory’ from where Almeni booked the taxi. Eight nearby homes have been evacuated, and officers on Monday carried out a controlled explosion on an item taken from the property in nearby Sefton Park in what they described as ‘a precaution’. 

Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Meeks of Counter Terrorism Police North West said: ‘Our enquiries are very much ongoing but at this stage we strongly believe that the deceased is 32-year-old Emad Al Swealmeen.

‘Al Swealmeen is connected to both the Rutland Avenue and Sutcliffe Street addresses where searches are still ongoing. We believe he lived at the Sutcliffe Street address for some time and had recently rented the Rutland Avenue address. Our focus is the Rutland Avenue address where we have continued to recover 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.’ 

The UK’s terror threat level was raised to ‘severe’ following an emergency COBRA meeting at Downing Street. Police and security services advised the Prime Minister that another attack on British soil is now ‘highly likely’. It came exactly a month after Conservative MP Sir David Amess was fatally stabbed during a constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex.  

At a Covid press briefing yesterday, Boris Johnson dramatically urged the country to be ‘vigilant’ and called the blast a ‘stark reminder’ of the risks of terrorism.  

Home Secretary Priti Patel cancelled a planned trip to Paris to discuss the Channel migrant crisis so she could be briefed on the Liverpool bombing. 

Al Swealmeen pictured with Malcolm and Elizabeth Hitchcott, the couple who took him in after he left the Middle East

Al Swealmeen pictured with Malcolm and Elizabeth Hitchcott, the couple who took him in after he left the Middle East

Al Swealmeen pictured with Malcolm and Elizabeth Hitchcott, the couple who took him in after he left the Middle East

Friends said Almeni was born Emad Jamil Al-Swealmeen to a Syrian father and an Iraqi mother, and is believed to have spent a large part of his life in Iraq

Friends said Almeni was born Emad Jamil Al-Swealmeen to a Syrian father and an Iraqi mother, and is believed to have spent a large part of his life in Iraq

Friends said Almeni was born Emad Jamil Al-Swealmeen to a Syrian father and an Iraqi mother, and is believed to have spent a large part of his life in Iraq

Al Swealmeen arrived in the UK several years ago, and mostly lived in Liverpool, where he was being supported by Christian volunteers from a network of churches who help asylum seekers,  it is understood

Al Swealmeen arrived in the UK several years ago, and mostly lived in Liverpool, where he was being supported by Christian volunteers from a network of churches who help asylum seekers,  it is understood

Al Swealmeen, 32, arrived in the UK from Iraq several years ago and converted from Islam to Christianity at the cathedral it is believed he wanted to attack on Sunday

Al Swealmeen, 32, arrived in the UK from Iraq several years ago and converted from Islam to Christianity at the cathedral it is believed he wanted to attack on Sunday

Al Swealmeen arrived in the UK several years ago, and mostly lived in Liverpool, where he was being supported by Christian volunteers from a network of churches who help asylum seekers,  it is understood

Al Swealmeen pictured on the right being converted to Christianity in Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral in 2017

Al Swealmeen pictured on the right being converted to Christianity in Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral in 2017

Al Swealmeen pictured on the right being converted to Christianity in Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral in 2017

Al Swealmeen pictured with Malcolm Hitchcott who took him in after Almeni left the Middle East for the UK several years ago

Al Swealmeen pictured with Malcolm Hitchcott who took him in after Almeni left the Middle East for the UK several years ago

Al Swealmeen pictured with Malcolm Hitchcott who took him in after Almeni left the Middle East for the UK several years ago

Hero taxi driver David Perry with his wife Rachel

Hero taxi driver David Perry with his wife Rachel

Hero taxi driver David Perry (with his wife Rachel), who apparently locked a suicide bomber in his car before a blast ripped through the vehicle outside a maternity hospital in Liverpool on Sunday

This is the moment the taxi carrying an alleged suicide bomber exploded outside a Liverpool hospital in what police and MI5 are now probing as a Poppy Day terror attack

This is the moment the taxi carrying an alleged suicide bomber exploded outside a Liverpool hospital in what police and MI5 are now probing as a Poppy Day terror attack

This is the moment the taxi carrying an alleged suicide bomber exploded outside a Liverpool hospital in what police and MI5 are now probing as a Poppy Day terror attack

A bomb squad has carried out a controlled explosion near a house in Liverpool this evening raided in connection to a suicide bombing outside a hospital on Remembrance Sunday. It is understood the explosion in Sefton Park was done 'as part of the ongoing investigation into the terrorist incident' outside the Liverpool Women's Hospital on Sunday just before 11am and that residents 'shouldn't be concerned'

A bomb squad has carried out a controlled explosion near a house in Liverpool this evening raided in connection to a suicide bombing outside a hospital on Remembrance Sunday. It is understood the explosion in Sefton Park was done 'as part of the ongoing investigation into the terrorist incident' outside the Liverpool Women's Hospital on Sunday just before 11am and that residents 'shouldn't be concerned'

A bomb squad has carried out a controlled explosion near a house in Liverpool this evening raided in connection to a suicide bombing outside a hospital on Remembrance Sunday. It is understood the explosion in Sefton Park was done ‘as part of the ongoing investigation into the terrorist incident’ outside the Liverpool Women’s Hospital on Sunday just before 11am and that residents ‘shouldn’t be concerned’

This is the moment armed officers raided a property in Sutcliffe Street Liverpool with one marksman scaling the back wall with a ladder and pointing it at a man leaving the back door.

This is the moment armed officers raided a property in Sutcliffe Street Liverpool with one marksman scaling the back wall with a ladder and pointing it at a man leaving the back door.

This is the moment armed officers raided a property in Sutcliffe Street Liverpool with one marksman scaling the back wall with a ladder and pointing it at a man leaving the back door.

A squad of armed officers were heard telling the suspects to 'get on the floor' and 'don't f***ing move' before taking three men away

A squad of armed officers were heard telling the suspects to 'get on the floor' and 'don't f***ing move' before taking three men away

A squad of armed officers were heard telling the suspects to 'get on the floor' and 'don't f***ing move' before taking three men away

A squad of armed officers were heard telling the suspects to 'get on the floor' and 'don't f***ing move' before taking three men away

A squad of armed officers were heard telling the suspects to ‘get on the floor’ and ‘don’t f***ing move’ before taking three men away

Boris Johnson urged the public to be 'vigilant' after the UK terror threat level was raised to severe following a blast outside Liverpool Women's Hospital

Boris Johnson urged the public to be 'vigilant' after the UK terror threat level was raised to severe following a blast outside Liverpool Women's Hospital

Boris Johnson urged the public to be ‘vigilant’ after the UK terror threat level was raised to severe following a blast outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital

Police at the sealed off house in Sutcliffe Street where three men were arrested last night and another suspect nearby

Police at the sealed off house in Sutcliffe Street where three men were arrested last night and another suspect nearby

Police at the sealed off house in Sutcliffe Street where three men were arrested last night and another suspect nearby

A male was arrested in the area close to the house in Sutcliffe Street, Kensington. It is not known if he is the fourth suspect held by police over the taxi bombing

A male was arrested in the area close to the house in Sutcliffe Street, Kensington. It is not known if he is the fourth suspect held by police over the taxi bombing

A male was arrested in the area close to the house in Sutcliffe Street, Kensington. It is not known if he is the fourth suspect held by police over the taxi bombing

These are the events that led to the explosion outside the Liverpool Women's Hospital and the arrests and raids that followed

These are the events that led to the explosion outside the Liverpool Women's Hospital and the arrests and raids that followed

These are the events that led to the explosion outside the Liverpool Women’s Hospital and the arrests and raids that followed

The taxi is seen travelling into the hospital car park at a fair speed at just before 10.57am, at a time when the driver may have chosen to lock the doors to keep his passenger inside having become suspicious of him

The taxi is seen travelling into the hospital car park at a fair speed at just before 10.57am, at a time when the driver may have chosen to lock the doors to keep his passenger inside having become suspicious of him

The taxi is seen travelling into the hospital car park at a fair speed at just before 10.57am, at a time when the driver may have chosen to lock the doors to keep his passenger inside having become suspicious of him

Before the car can come to a halt, it explodes, with all the windows shattered by debris from the blast

Before the car can come to a halt, it explodes, with all the windows shattered by debris from the blast

Before the car can come to a halt, it explodes, with all the windows shattered by debris from the blast

Smoke billows out of the car. Friends of the driver have said that he became suspicious of the man he had on board

Smoke billows out of the car. Friends of the driver have said that he became suspicious of the man he had on board

Smoke billows out of the car. Friends of the driver have said that he became suspicious of the man he had on board

A dazed Mr Perry is seen opening the door around six seconds after the blast. He is lucky to be alive and his passenger is likely to be dead

A dazed Mr Perry is seen opening the door around six seconds after the blast. He is lucky to be alive and his passenger is likely to be dead

A dazed Mr Perry is seen opening the door around six seconds after the blast. He is lucky to be alive and his passenger is likely to be dead

By 10.59am the car was fully alight and Mr Perry had been carried away by a member of the hospital security team

By 10.59am the car was fully alight and Mr Perry had been carried away by a member of the hospital security team

By 10.59am the car was fully alight and Mr Perry had been carried away by a member of the hospital security team

Three men have been arrested as part of a terror probe after one person died and another was injured when a taxi pulled up and exploded (pictured) at Liverpool Women's Hospital seconds before the 11am Remembrance Sunday silence began

Three men have been arrested as part of a terror probe after one person died and another was injured when a taxi pulled up and exploded (pictured) at Liverpool Women's Hospital seconds before the 11am Remembrance Sunday silence began

Three men have been arrested as part of a terror probe after one person died and another was injured when a taxi pulled up and exploded (pictured) at Liverpool Women’s Hospital seconds before the 11am Remembrance Sunday silence began

Did you know Enzo Almeni, aka Emad Jamil Al-Swealmeen?

Email jack.wright@mailonline.co.uk

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Assistant Chief Constable Russ Jackson said on Monday night: ‘Following interviews with the arrested men, we are satisfied with the accounts they have provided and they have been released from police custody.

‘The investigation continues to move at a fast pace with investigative teams working throughout the night.

‘We have made significant progress since Sunday morning and have a much greater understanding of the component parts of the device, how they were obtained and how the parts are likely to have been assembled. We have also recovered important evidence from the address at Rutland Avenue which is becoming central to the investigation.

‘There is a considerable way to go to understand how this incident was planned, prepared for and how it happened. We are gaining a better understanding by the hour but it is likely to be some time, perhaps many weeks until we are confident on our understanding of what has taken place.’

Mr Hitchcott exclusively told MailOnline: ‘He was Syrian through his father but I gather he spent much of his life in Iraq, where his mother came from.

‘As far as I can recall, we never spoke in any great length about the situation in Iraq and Syria, we may have touched on it once or twice but he gave nothing away about what he felt about it.

‘I don’t think he ever went back to Iraq or Syria. I know that he had a brother who lived in Dubai and often spent time between there and Iraq. Enzo used to send him money.

‘He was good company. We would sometimes go on days out, myself, Enzo and my wife Marion visited Speke Hall on one occasion and took some nice images together.

‘But his behaviour changed ever so slightly towards the end of the period he lived with us. He stated to ask odd questions. I remember he came into the kitchen once and said: ‘Is there anything you want to ask me?’

‘I was a bit taken aback and replied ”no, why do you ask? You’ve been here six months.” He then showed me a letter addressed to him that had been torn at the top of the envelope and he accused me of opening it to see what was inside.

‘But I hadn’t at all. The envelope was torn as as it had been pushed through the letter box. I showed him a letter addressed to me that had been torn in the same way but I don’t think he was completely convinced. Myself and my wife went on holiday in November 2017 and told Enzo he could stay at our house while we were away but he said he wanted to leave and get his own place.

‘He left and we had little contact with him from then on in. Apart from when he invited us to a Christmas carol concert in December 2017 at the Williamson Tunnels.’

He added: ‘My wife saw him before lockdown and he seemed to be in very good spirits. He said that he’d enrolled in a catering course specialising in cake decorating at a college in Liverpool. The fact that he’s blown himself up in a taxi in a terrorist attack has really shocked me. As far as I knew his only interest was go-karting and Formula 1.’ 

POPPY DAY HOSPITAL EXPLOSION: HOW EVENTS UNFOLDED ON REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY 

A picture shows the burnt out vehicle outside the Liverpool Women's Hospital on Sunday afternoon

A picture shows the burnt out vehicle outside the Liverpool Women's Hospital on Sunday afternoon

A picture shows the burnt out vehicle outside the Liverpool Women’s Hospital on Sunday afternoon

Sunday, November 14 

10.57am: The taxi pulls up at the Liverpool Women’s Hospital and explodes seconds later.

10.59am: The vehicle is fully engulfed just before the national silence for Remembrance Sunday. 

The passenger was killed and the driver was left with serious injuries. The latter is said to have spotted the explosives, ‘jumped’ from the car and locked the other man inside. 

At the time, a remembrance service involving scores of military personnel, veterans and civic dignitaries, was taking place at Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral less than a mile away. There are reports the taxi parked at the hospital because it could not get any closer to the Cathedral.

11.04am: Police and emergency services arrive at the scene, and it is initially thought the car might have caught alight because of a fuel leak.

1pm: Officers, who are believed to have spoken to hero taxi driver David Perry, announce the incident is being treated as an act of terrorism.

4.54pm: Police seal off Rutland Avenue (right). Around a mile from the blast. Locals said armed police ordered residents to leave and head to a nearby leisure centre, saying the area ‘wasn’t safe’ and were ‘pointing guns at a house’. Counter-terror negotiators were also called to the scene.

6.59pm: The men – aged 29, 26, and 21 – were detained in the Kensington area of the city and arrested under the Terrorism Act.

Monday, November 15 

3.30am: The operation at the Rutland Avenue address appears to wind down.

10am: Footage of the explosion emerges on CCTV from the scene.

Midday: Police confirm it is being treated as a terror attack. And a man, 20, becomes the fourth suspect arrested

3pm: After raising the UK terror threat level to ‘severe’, speaking at a press conference at Downing Street, the Prime Minister said the blast was a ‘stark reminder’ to the public to remain vigilant, adding: ‘What yesterday showed above all is 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.

‘And our freedoms and our way of life will always prevail.’

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At the centre of the intense police operation yesterday was the ‘bomb factory’ where Al Swealmeen put together his defective bomb.

Officers descended on Rutland Avenue within two hours of Sunday’s explosion. The property on Rutland Avenue, a tree-lined road in a smart area consisting of many large Victorian houses split into flats, was cordoned off by 1pm.

At this stage, neighbours did not see much sign of police activity. One local resident described the man at the centre of the case as a ‘foreigner’ who had only moved in about two or three weeks ago and had lived alone. 

Police blocked off all roads leading to the hostel, and trained searchlights on the property as darkness fell. A witness filmed a police marksman armed with an assault rifle scaling a rear wall with a ladder. Three men were later arrested at the hostel.

At Rutland Avenue, activity intensified over Sunday afternoon and evening. It is not clear when officers realised one of the flats in the semi-detached property was a bomb factory, because nearby neighbours were not evacuated until the evening.

At 8pm, one of them watched as ‘two officers in protective vests marked with ‘Negotiator’ arrived on the scene’. He added: ‘About six or seven police cars, each with two officers, arrived. They said they were armed police and we can’t leave our homes.

‘We have been told to keep away from the windows, and if people were out, they can’t come home.’

By 11.30pm on Sunday, eight families living in the next-door addresses were evacuated. Taxis and at least two minibuses arrived to take the residents to alternative accommodation.

By the early hours of yesterday, armed officers had entered the three-storey villa.

One resident who lives behind the house – which is split into four flats – described seeing police ‘shining red lasers towards the upstairs rear window’. A tenant who rented a flat in the building 15 years ago said the ground- floor studio apartment had access to a ‘small concrete-walled bunker, like something from the Second World War’.

Later yesterday officers yesterday carried out a controlled explosion in nearby Sefton Park on an item taken from the property in what they described as a ‘precaution’.

Witness Frances Evans said police officers formed a human shield around a black van, which was driven in to the middle of the park before she saw a puff of smoke.

‘They made this big ring to make sure nobody came near the park,’ she said. ‘They were probably about 50 metres from the van.’

Searches have been proceeding with extreme caution due to the ‘challenging environment’, sources said. Police said Al Swealmeen had ‘recently’ rented a property in the building.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Assistant Chief Constable Russ Jackson of Counter Terrorism North West said they know the identity of the taxi passenger and believe that he made the bomb.

He said: ‘It is not clear what the motivation for this incident is. Our enquiries 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. 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. Although, the motivation for this incident is yet to be understood, given all the circumstances, it has been declared a terrorist incident and counter-terrorism policing are continuing with the investigation. Our enquiries will now continue to seek to understand how the device was built, the motivation for the incident and to understand if anyone else was involved in it’.  

Investigators have ‘attributed’ the bomber to both the addresses but police are not yet sure where he lived, and last night at 9.45pm anti-terror officers forced their way into the front and back of the Sutcliffe Street house as they tried to establish if he was a lone wolf or part of a cell.

Suspects were seen with their hands up in the rear yard, as officers trained their rifles on them and told them to get on the floor. Matthew Heitman, 26, who lives opposite the raided house, said: ‘Two of the men were marched out at gunpoint and they had them up against the wall. The people living there had not long moved in, maybe weeks or months.’

Another neighbour, Sharon Cullen, said she and her husband, 22-year-old daughter and two-year-old grandson were evacuated from their home. She said: ‘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 ‘whatever is going on at the back of the house, it could blow the block’. It was really frightening.’  

Mr Perry has been credited with saving many lives after keeping the suspect inside his cab in the moments before it blew up. His wife has revealed he is ‘doing ok but is extremely sore’, while adding that his escape was an ‘utter miracle’.  

Rachel Perry wrote on Facebook: ‘I would just like to thank each and every one of you who has messaged asking how David is. He is doing ok but is extremely sore and trying to process what’s happened.

Detectives say the male passenger who died in the blast had asked to go Liverpool’s Women’s Hospital, around ten minutes drive from his home in Rutland Avenue, which police have sealed off. They also evacuated eight neighbours overnight amid fears it was being used as a bomb factory. 

Friends of Mr Perry believe the target may have been the city’s nearby Service of Remembrance at Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral, where 1,200 military personnel, veterans and families of the fallen had gathered less than a mile from the hospital. Roads around the cathedral had been closed before the 11am Poppy Day event. 

Mr Perry escaped to safety a split-second after a small blast blew out the windows and before flames spread through his vehicle.

New video and white smoke suggests the suicide bomb failed to explode due to a faulty detonator, says 7/7 cop

One theory police are probing is that the detonators on a potential bomb exploded but not the main charge. 

That would be a repeat of the failed 21/7 bombings three weeks after the 7/7 atrocity in 2005.  

David Videcette, a former 7/7 counter-terror detective at Scotland Yard, tweeted: ‘Any type of explosion in a confined space is devastating, here it blows out the windows and sends the entire windscreen into the sky.

‘This makes obvious that the seat of the blast is where the taxi passenger was, and not the front where the driver was. The white smoke indicates the explosion was fuelled by some type of explosive, the fire then takes hold and the smoke changes colour as it consumes the car.

‘Improvised Explosive Devices have various components, with each having to operate in the correct order, at a desired point, for there to be an explosion. Sometimes the components don’t operate in order or when desired. 

‘It’s possible what we see here is a detonator explosion that has failed to set off the main charge’. 

Nick Aldworth, a former counter-terrorism national co-ordinator, said the timing of the blast was ‘significant’ but it was ‘very much open to debate at the moment about what has happened’.

Professor Clifford Jones, visiting professor at Chester University, told MailOnline: ‘It seems to me that the heat, not the blast, was the lethal factor. That signifies that the bomb was composed not of a high explosive such as TNT but of a hydrocarbon substance, most likely gasoline.’ 

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme that from what he has seen there is ‘very little blast damage’ indicating that whatever was in the vehicle was ‘low yield or didn’t work properly, or possibly an incendiary’. 

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Friends said Mr Perry had become alarmed when his passenger started ‘flashing’ and vibrating’ as he pulled up – evidence of the device malfunctioning, experts said.

Miraculously, the driver suffered just minor cuts and bruises as well as damage to an eardrum and was discharged from hospital.

Mr Perry was hailed a ‘hero’, with well-wishers donating more than £50,000 to help replace his cab. His wife said the family’s overwhelming emotion was that he was ‘lucky to be alive’.

CCTV has emerged capturing the horrifying moment Mr Perry’s taxi became a fireball outside the reception of Liverpool Women’s Hospital, shortly before the 11am two-minute’s silence was due to take place on Sunday.

The dark-coloured taxi is seen pulling into the hospital car park at speed but it explodes before it comes to a halt outside the reception. All the windows shattered and smoke pours out of the car before a dazed Mr Perry opens the driver’s door and staggers out into the road around six seconds after the blast. 

The injured taxi driver then appears to warn others to stay away from the car and there has also been praise for a man in high-viz yellow who runs towards the blazing taxi to help him. Around 30 seconds after the explosion, with smoke belching out of the car, it is engulfed by flames with the bomber still inside. One witness can be seen looking into the back seat passenger. He decides the passenger is dead and can’t be saved. 

Police are scrambling to discover the bomber’s true target. If it was the hospital, Dr Joseph Downing, a fellow in nationalism at LSE who studies security and terrorism, told MailOnline: ‘It’s quite strange and a worrying new pivot towards such a ‘soft’ target as a hospital that we have not seen before in Europe.’ 

If Mr Perry did lock the doors, yesterday’s terrifying video makes him look even braver, as he may have decided to stop the suspect entering the hospital’s reception, even if it cost him his own life. 

A friend of married father-of-two Mr Perry, 45, said that he believed that the cathedral was the target but traffic and road closures led to the passenger, who has not been formally identified, asking the driver to park at the nearby Liverpool Women’s Hospital instead. If he locked him in, David appears to have stopped the man targeting the hospital as the clock struck 11am. 

One theory police are probing is that the detonators on a potential bomb exploded but not the main charge. That would be a repeat of the failed 21/7 bombings three weeks after the 7/7 atrocity in 2005.

David Videcette, a former 7/7 counter-terror detective at Scotland Yard, said: ‘Improvised Explosive Devices have various components, with each having to operate in the correct order, at a desired point, for there to be an explosion. Sometimes the components don’t operate in order or when desired. It’s possible what we see here is a detonator explosion that has failed to set off the main charge’.  

The Prime Minister has praised the taxi driver caught up in the Liverpool explosion for acting with ‘incredible presence of mind and bravery’.

Speaking at a medical centre in east London on Monday, Boris Johnson echoed the city’s mayor Joanne Anderson in crediting the driver.

Mr Johnson said: ‘It does look as though the taxi driver in question did behave with incredible presence of mind and bravery.’

The investigation into the Remembrance Sunday explosion outside a Liverpool hospital is continuing.

A friend said: ‘David noticed the man had some kind of light attached to his clothing and was messing around with it, it didn’t look right at all. They couldn’t get there, the roads were blocked off.

‘The man changed his mind and asked to go to the city centre instead. But when they were going past the Women’s Hospital he said to pull in there. It was just before 11. David noticed the man had some kind of light attached to his clothing and was messing around with it, it didn’t look right at all.

‘I don’t know how he’s done it with a split second’s thought but David’s jumped out and locked the car with this guy in the back. As soon as he did, it’s gone off. If this guy got in the hospital God knows what could have happened. David’s the luckiest man in Britain as well as the most heroic’.    

Source: Daily Mail UK

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