Liverpool bomber had asylum claim rejected six years before attack

Die Liverpool bomber had an asylum claim rejected on multiple grounds six years before he attempted to detonate a homemade explosive outside a hospital, court documents show.

Emad al-Swealmeen, 32, was killed when the bomb he was carrying exploded inside a taxi outside Liverpool women’s hospital on Remembrance Sunday last year.

The Home Office twice rejected Swealmeen’s claims for asylum – once in 2014 and again in 2020 – and new details raise questions about why he was not pursued for deportation as long ago as 2015.

Court documents obtained by BBC News show he claimed to be of Syrian heritage and in fear for his life, but was unable to give basic details about where his family lived or why they were in danger.

Language analysis conducted by the Home Office concluded that there was a high likelihood that he was Iraqi and was “very unlikely” to be Syrian.

Swealmeen travelled to the UK in 2014 on a genuine Jordanian passport, which gave his birthplace as Iraq and his date of birth as 11 Oktober 1989.

An immigration judge dismissed his asylum appeal in April 2015, writing in a ruling quoted by BBC News: “His account of his time in Syria gives the impression of someone quoting information that is in the public domain rather than having first-hand experience.

“The appellant did not identify himself with any particular faction or indicate that he would be at risk other than in a general sense.”

That ruling meant the Home Office had the green light to send Swealmeen back to Iraq or Jordan, as it had previously told him it would do.

In plaas daarvan, egter, Swealmeen remained in the UK and is thought to have been moved to the Fazakerley area of Liverpool in late 2016.

In 2017 he mounted a new asylum claim using a different name but that was rejected at the end of 2020, prompting another appeal in January 2021.

Police believe that Swealmeen was plotting a terror attack by at least April 2021, when he rented a property and started buying parts needed for a bomb.

Detectives believe it is most likely that he acted alone although counter-terrorism experts have said it is incredibly rare for someone to plan an atrocity for seven months without telling anyone.

The case raises questions about why Swealmeen was not deported in 2015 when his first asylum appeal was rejected on several grounds, and he could have been spotted earlier as a danger to himself and others.

The Home Office declined to comment on Swealmeen’s case but said: “We are fixing the broken asylum system. The ‘new plan for immigration’ will require people to raise all protection-related issues upfront 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.”

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