Liverpool bomber’s asylum claim rejected six years before attack

Emad Al Swealmeen died in bomb attack outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital in November 2021

The Liverpool bomber’s asylum claim was dismissed more than six years before he tried to carry out the attack, court documents show.

Emad Al Swealmeen, 32, died from the blast and subsequent fire after his homemade bomb detonated in a taxi outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital shortly before 11am on November 14, 2021.

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

The Iraqi-born Al Swealmeen falsely claimed to be of Syrian heritage in asylum applications.

He went to the UK legally in May 2014 with a Jordanian passport and UK visa, but his asylum claim was rejected, a coroner’s court 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 after requests from the BBC, the PA news agency and The Times shows.

The decision dated April 16 of that year, after a hearing in Manchester three days earlier, detailed how Al Swealmeen had depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosed.

Home Office officials decided he had not established a “well-founded fear of persecution so that he did not qualify for asylum” and had not demonstrated “substantial grounds” to qualify for humanitarian protection.

Al Swealmeen had been told 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 and, considering his credibility, 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 The solicitors initially representing him had withdrawn from the case and asked to be removed from the record.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, he had been in prison in the Middle East for a serious assault, and was previously convicted in Liverpool of possession of an offensive weapon.

Al Swealmeen was still a practising Muslim despite converting to Christianity once in the UK, the coroner’s court was told.

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

Officials said that in January last year, Al Swealmeen launched another tribunal appeal, which was outstanding at the time of the attack, suggesting he had recently submitted a new asylum claim to the Home Office that had also been rejected.

The department has repeatedly refused to answer questions about the case or explain why Al Swealmeen was not removed from the UK when his asylum claim and appeal were rejected.

The Home Office told PA 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 an internal inquiry or any investigations into how the case was handled.

Decisions made by the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) are not normally reported.

But after requests for the records were made by the media, the tribunal’s president Judge Michael Clements accepted that in this case the “public interest element is such that this outweighs the usual practice”.

Updated: January 24, 2022, 12:57 AM