The suspected Liverpool bomber packed his homemade explosive device with ball bearings to cause maximum death or injury, police have revealed.
Emad al-Swealmeen, 32, used many aliases to buy the parts for the bomb, from at least April of this year, detectives added. He died last Sunday when a taxi he had hired drove to immediately outside Liverpool Women’s hospital, and exploded.
Police said it was possible the homemade bomb exploded because of “the movement of the vehicle or its stopping”.
The explosion was declared a terrorist incident but more than five days later, police can not say what ideology or cause spurred the attack.
Relatives of Swealmeen, originally from the Middle East, have been tracked down by investigators and have given details of his early life.
Russ Jackson, an assistant chief constable and head of counter-terrorism police in the north-west, dicho: “Officers spoke with the brother of al-Swealmeen yesterday evening (Thursday) and this has given us an insight into his early years and an understanding of al-Swealmeen’s life and his recent state of mind, which is an important line of investigation.
“We are grateful for members of the public who knew him and have contacted us.”:
Jackson said examination of what was left in the cab and of two Liverpool addresses linked to Swealmeen had started to give police clues about the nature of the bomb and how it was put together. Jackson said: “Although there is much scientific work to do on the device to determine what made it up, we have learned a great deal over the past five days.
“It was made using homemade explosive and had ball bearings attached to it which would have acted as shrapnel. Had it detonated in different circumstances we believe it would have caused significant injury or death.”
Investigators are not certain about the target, but lean towards it being the maternity hospital, rather than a Remembrance Day event under a mile from where the cab stopped, just before 11am.
The likelihood, they increasingly believe, is that the explosive, which produced a fireball that engulfed the taxi and Swealmeen, detonated prematurely.
Jackson said: “We still do not know how or why the device exploded when it did, but we are not discounting it being completely unintentional, and it is a possibility that the movement of the vehicle or its stopping caused the ignition.
“We are spending considerable time seeking to understand the way the purchases for the ingredients to make the device were made. This is complicated because purchases have spanned many months and al-Swealmeen has used many aliases.
“We are confident however that in time we will get a full picture of what purchases were made and how, and if anyone else was involved or knew what al-Swealmeen was up to.”
So far police have found no evidence that anyone else was involved. Four men who were arrested by counter-terrorism detectives have been eliminated as suspects.
The explosion and revelations that someone had been plotting since April to attack the north-west caused anxiety in the region, where in 2017 la Bombardeo del Manchester Arena delicado 22 gente.
Jackson tried to give reassurance: “We have found no connection between this incident and the terrible events of Manchester in May 2017. The device was also different to the one used in the Manchester Arena attack.
“The investigation is still moving at a very fast pace and will continue into the weekend and the coming weeks.”
Police have said Swealmeen had experienced episodes of mental ill-health and they were still trying to understand what part this played in the attack. He was an asylum seeker whose attempts to stay permanently in the UK had been turned down.
It is claimed he had converted to Christianity, although one line of inquiry is whether he had returned to Islam.
The taxi driver who drove Swealmeen fled the cab after the device detonated.
The explosion, the second incident to be declared a terrorist in a month after the stabbing to death of the MP Sir David Amess, led to the UK’s terrorism threat level being raised to severe, meaning an attack is highly likely.