The Liverpool terror attacker died from the blast from his improvised explosive device after calling his brother to warn he might do “something bad”, a coroner has said.
Emad al Swealmeen died in a taxi outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital when the device detonated on Remembrance Sunday on 14 November.
He made it with “murderous intent” and could have killed “many, many innocent people” – but it is unclear whether he intended for the device to go off when it did, said senior coroner Andre Rebello.
Ball bearings from the explosion blew out the taxi windscreen with such force it travelled 16 metres and hit a tree, the inquest heard.
Recording a narrative conclusion, the coroner said: “(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.”
The inquest also heard that al Swealmeen, 32, had called his brother in America two days before the blast and suggested he might do “something bad”.
Mr Rebello told the inquest: “He says towards the end of call Emad said something like ‘if I do something bad that will affect the family what do you think?’
“He replied something like ‘don’t do s***’, advising him as an older brother, although this was something which caused him concern, knowing his previous issues.”
No one else died in the blast – which happened moments after the taxi pulled up – and the driver David Perry had a miraculous escape and managed to run from the car.
The inquest heard he had picked up al Swealmeen from his Rutland Avenue flat, with the attacker pushing himself up against the window and the door.
Mr Rebello said: “The only words he spoke were ‘Women’s Hospital’ in what Mr Perry describes as a foreign, Middle Eastern accent.”
“As his car came to a stop he didn’t notice anything unusual, no warning, no movement from the passenger, just the blast,” the coroner added.
Mr Perry blacked out for a few seconds before coming to and feeling burning on his back.
“He could see smoke and smell burning plastic and the smell of burning body and thought ‘I’m dead if I don’t get out’,” Mr Rebello said.
“He saw light coming from the floor near his driver’s door and without taking his seatbelt off he pushed the door as hard as he could to force himself out of the car.
“He didn’t know if the passenger was still in there, he didn’t turn round to look at him.”
Iraq-born al Swealmeen came to the UK legally on a visa in May 2014, the coroner said.
“Shortly after his arrival he claimed, it is believed falsely, that he was of Syrian heritage and claimed asylum as a refugee from that country,” said Mr Rebello.
All his asylum claims were rejected – the last in November 2020.
Liverpool Coroner’s Court heard claims that al Swealmeen had converted from Islam to Christianity in order to improve his asylum chances.
Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Meeks said he agreed, as becoming a Christian would have made him “liable to persecution on return to Syria or Iraq”.
When al Swealmeen’s accommodation was searched a Koran and prayer mat were found, the coroner added, suggesting he still followed Islam.
Mr Meeks said it was accurate to describe the Rutland Avenue address as a “bomb-making factory”, but that there was so far no evidence to suggest anyone else had helped make the device.
He said al Swealmeen had bought 2,000 ball bearings and that items likely to have been intended for use in improvised firearms were also found at his previous address in Sutcliffe Street.
The chief inspector confirmed he had not been on the radar of security services and that police were still investigating what his intention was.