Report published into 2021 Liverpool Women’s Hospital explosion

Following the conclusion of the investigation into the terrorist incident outside the Liverpool Women’s Hospital on Remembrance Sunday in 2021, Counter Terrorism Policing North West (CTPNW) today published a report of key findings.

On the morning of the attack on Sunday 14 November 2021, the suspect Emad Al Swealmeen travelled as a passenger in a taxi to the Liverpool Women’s Hospital.

He was armed with an improvised explosive device (IED) which detonated outside the entrance to the Hospital, resulting in his death. It is believed the configuration of the device was unstable and it is likely to have exploded earlier than planned.

The injured taxi driver managed to escape from the burning vehicle and was assisted by hospital security.

The initial investigation was launched by Merseyside Police, and they identified the suspect as Emad Al Swealmeen, an Iraq-born 32-year-old asylum seeker.

Superintendent Andy Meeks

Superintendent Andy Meeks said, “The events of 14 November 2021 shocked the country and left many people living with lasting trauma including the taxi driver who escaped with his life, people present in the hospital and all who witnessed and were affected by this attack in Merseyside.
“We are fortunate that no innocent lives were lost but we nevertheless owe it to the people of Merseyside and the wider public to provide answers as to why this attack happened.

“We understand there has been a lot of interest and speculation surrounding events that day. There are still things we will never know; however, this inquiry has been carried out by specialist detectives and the findings are the result of almost two years of exhaustive investigative work.

“We are now in a position to comment in more detail. We are confident that Al Swealmeen acted alone and that this was a planned attack by a man who was prepared to do more harm than was thankfully inflicted.

“He built an IED using components purchased legally over a number of months and took significant steps to conceal this activity from the authorities – including renting a flat on Rutland Avenue to build the device.

“We still can’t say with absolute certainty what his intended target was, however, there is no information to suggest that Al Swealmeen planned to detonate his device anywhere other than the Liverpool Women’s Hospital.

“It is believed the motive was likely driven by anger towards the British state for repeated rejections of his asylum claim and exacerbated by his own mental health struggles.

“This was an incredibly complex case involving a lone suspect who took considerable steps to cover his tracks and I understand the concerns this will raise around the detection of such offenders.

“Working with local policing and other partners, Counter Terrorism Policing has a range of specialist capabilities dedicated to preventing materials which have the potential to be used for illegal or dangerous acts. We also work closely with retailers to ensure they know how to identify and report suspicious transactions as soon as possible.

“Following any terrorist incident, we will always seek ways to strengthen our response, and we are continually trialling new methods to enhance our approach to the threat.”

Merseyside Police Assistant Chief Constable, Jon Roy

Merseyside Police Assistant Chief Constable, Jon Roy, added, “Hopefully the conclusion of the investigation into the terrorist incident at the Liverpool Women’s Hospital on Remembrance Sunday in 2021 will provide some reassurance to the local community and other communities across Merseyside.

“When the incident happened at 10.59am on that Sunday, 14 November, Merseyside Fire and Rescue and officers from Merseyside Police were on the scene within two minutes dealing with the incident.

“Thankfully, the driver of the taxi driver had miraculously managed to escape the car without any serious injury, whilst Emad Al Swealmeen died in the car with the explosive device he had manufactured and taken with him.

“Following the incident officers and staff from Merseyside Police worked round the clock to support the investigation by Counter Terrorism Police North West. Whilst Local Policing officers worked together with Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, community engagement officers from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and representatives of the Local Authority provided reassurance in the area.

“The reaction of the public was unbelievable; in the face of adversity they were strong and determined and unbowed. Ultimately the aim of terrorists is to create conflict, distrust and fear, but that didn’t happen here and people across Liverpool stood shoulder to shoulder.

“And the tenacity and strength of the management, staff and patients at Liverpool Womens’ Hospital was outstanding.

“Immediately after the explosion the hospital diverted patients to other hospitals in Merseyside, but amazingly by Sunday evening they had swiftly put their business continuity plans in place and were able to continue the crucial service they provide to the region and beyond.

“The following week staff at the hospital delivered more than 150 babies and more than 60 babies on the neo-natal unit, were given specialist care and showed the strength and resilience the city is renowned for.

“Liverpool has always been defined by its friendliness, kindness and spirit of togetherness in times of crisis and we are proud of our heritage as a multi-cultural city.
“We pull together in the face of hardship and tragedy. We support each other at times of difficulty.

“It’s why so many of us are so proud to call Liverpool and Merseyside our home, and why many who come to the city decide to stay for the rest of their lives.

“And going forward you have a vital role to play by reporting anything that you see or hear that doesn’t feel right – this would be anything that seems out of place, unusual or doesn’t seem to fit in with day-to-day life. Report suspicious activity immediately to a member of staff or police officer or call 101. And in an emergency, always call 999.”

Video footage of the explosion at Liverpool Women’s Hospital

Merseyside PCC, Emily Spurrell, said, “Nothing will ever excuse or justify Al Swealmeen’s despicable decision to build and detonate a bomb at the Women’s Hospital on 14th November 2021.  His actions risked the lives of hundreds of patients and staff. 

“Whilst a precise motive for the attack remains unclear, it is important we try to understand what influenced him to carry out his cowardly deed to better prepare for and deter any attempts to cause mass devastation in the future. 

“Today’s report raises more concerns around the effectiveness of our asylum system, the way claims are processed, support available to asylum seekers and what procedures are used to monitor those individuals who are refused permission to live in the UK.

“These incidents are thankfully very rare, and I want to reassure our communities that Merseyside Police and Counter Terrorism North-West work around the clock, with all partner agencies to prevent them from happening.

“I’d like to thank Counter-Terrorism officers who have diligently and meticulously followed every line of inquiry to find out why the bombing happened as well as the emergency services and partner organisations for their response to the incidentI’m also grateful to all our communities who came together to support each other and our asylum seeker community in the wake of the incident.

“Liverpool is a diverse city built on multi-culturalism and it’s a place that proudly welcomes people from across the world into its heart. As we’ve seen in the past, when the city and the wider Merseyside region faces adversity or tragedy, people come together, and it’s that spirit of community that defines us all. Hate and division and those who attempt to inflict it will never be tolerated here.

“If you see or hear anything suspicious or unusual then you should always report it. You can do so by contacting the police direct or by visiting gov.uk/ACT  where you can file a report in confidence.

“If you’ve been affected by any events outlined in this report then our Victim Care Merseyside Hub has a team of trained staff on hand who can provide tailored, emotional, and practical support. You can find more information at www.victimcaremerseyside.org  or by calling Freephone 0808 175 3080. Alternatively, you can access support from the Peace Foundation at https://www.peace-foundation.org.uk/

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