Liverpool hospital bomber’s asylum claim ‘rejected six years before attack’

Emad al Swealmeen was killed when his homemade device detonated in a taxi on Remembrance Day
Emad al Swealmeen was killed when his homemade device detonated in a taxi on Remembrance Day (Picture: Rex/Liverpool Echo)

The Liverpool terror attacker’s asylum claim was dismissed on multiple grounds more than six years before he attempted to detonate a bomb outside a hospital, court documents show.

Emad al Swealmeen was killed when his homemade device exploded in a taxi outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital shortly before 11am on Remembrance Sunday last year.

His inquest revealed he had bought 2,000 ball bearings and rented a ‘bomb-making factory’ to manufacture a device with ‘murderous intent’.

The 32-year-old legally came to the UK in May 2014, with a Jordanian passport and UK visa.

But the Iraqi-born attacker falsely claimed to be of Syrian heritage in asylum applications and had his claim rejected, an inquest heard last month.

He challenged the Home Office decision by lodging an appeal with the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) but this was dismissed in 2015, a copy of the ruling obtained by the BBC, PA news agency and The Times has shown.

The decision, dated April 16, 2015, detailed how Al Swealmeen had been diagnosed with depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Home Office officials decided Al Swealmeen had not established a ‘well-founded fear of persecution so that he did not qualify for asylum’.

The burning taxi outside the reception of Liverpool Women's Hospital
The burning taxi outside the reception of Liverpool Women’s Hospital (Picture: Twitter)
The damaged car being removed by forensic officers after the  explosion
The damaged car being removed by forensic officers after the explosion (Picture: PA)

He had also failed to demonstrate ‘substantial grounds’ to qualify for humanitarian protection.

Al Swealmeen had been informed of the ‘decision to remove him from the United Kingdom’, the court papers said.

The judge noted there were ‘a number of problems’ with his evidence.

Considering Al Swealmeen’s credibility, the judge said: ‘I find that the appellant has attempted to give an account to put himself in the best light …

‘In view of all the evidence, I reject his account of events in Syria and his fears on his return in their entirety, and dismiss his asylum appeal.’

Al Swealmeen did not attend the hearing.

The solicitors initially representing him had withdrawn from the case and asked to be removed from the record.

Born in Baghdad, Al Swealmeen had been in prison in the Middle East for a serious assault, as well as being convicted previously in Liverpool of possession of an offensive weapon.

He lived at Home Office-provided accommodation in Sutcliffe Street, in the Kensington area of Liverpool, but since April had rented a flat in the Rutland Avenue.

Emad Al Swealmeen
Emad Al Swealmeen died when the device detonated and the taxi he was in set alight (Picture: Liverpool Echo)

He was still a practising Muslim despite converting to Christianity once in the UK, his inquest heard.

In January 2021, he launched another first-tier tribunal appeal which was still outstanding at the time of the November 14 attack, suggesting he had recently submitted a fresh asylum claim which had also been rejected.

The Home Office has repeatedly refused to answer questions about Al Swealmeen’s case and why he was not removed from the UK once his asylum claim, and subsequent appeal, was rejected.

A spokesperson said it was ‘fixing the broken asylum system’ and that the ‘New Plan for Immigration will require people to raise all protection-related issues up front to tackle the practice of making multiple and sequential claims and enable the removal of those with no right to be in our country more quickly’.

A spokesman would not comment on whether the Home Office was conducting carrying out an internal inquiry, or conducting any investigations, into how the case was handled.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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