The Liverpool suicide bomber’s bogus asylum claim was dismissed as ‘not credible’ almost seven years before he tried to blow up a maternity hospital on Remembrance Sunday, newly obtained court documents revealed today.
Emad Al Swealmeen lied repeatedly to try to stay in Britain but his case quickly fell apart by the spring of 2015, raising more damaging questions about why he was never deported in the following six years.
The judge who rejected his first asylum case suggested he could have been thrown out of Britain immediately – but he remained in Liverpool where he built a bomb factory in his flat and then blew himself up on November 14 last year.
His asylum application was rejected in November 2014 and his appeal failed in April 2015. There were then at least two years when he had no active appeals at all, yet no order to remove him from the country was sought by the Government.
The 32-year-old’s web of lies began as soon as he arrived in Britain in April 2014 from the UAE, claiming to be Syrian and in fear of his life.
But expert language analysis of his Arabic by the Home Office quickly found that he was ‘almost certainly’ Iraqi. He also had no documents to support his claim to be Syrian, no connections with that country whatsoever and couldn’t answer basic questions about its geography or where his family lived.
Moreover, he had travelled into the UK on a genuine Jordanian passport – that he later claimed was fake – and failed to explain away why he came to Britain from the much safer UAE, where he had lived for more than a decade.
In 2017 he even put in an application under his alias Enzo Almeni but it was not sifted out despite the authorities having his fingerprints. He was also arrested after threatening people with a knife in a Liverpool underpass, but was still allowed to remain in the UK and even got a job as a pizza chef.
The failed asylum seeker, who converted to Christianity to improve his chances of a successful appeal but remained a practising Muslim, died from the blast and subsequent fire after his homemade bomb detonated in a taxi outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital.
Emad Al Swealmeen, an asylum seeker who had converted to Christianity, arrived in the UK from the Middle East in 2014 and had an application for asylum rejected the following year and remained in the country despite a judge saying he could be deported immediately
Al Swealmeen died when he detonated an explosive device in the back of a taxi outside the Liverpool Women’s Hospital just before 11am on November 14. Taxi driver David Perry managed to escape with injuries
His inquest revealed he bought 2,000 ball bearings and rented a ‘bomb-making factory’ to manufacture a device with ‘murderous intent’ that went off shortly before 11am on November 14 last year.
How was he still in Britain? Bomber was able to stay in the UK using lies, converting to Christianity and the Home Office’s failure to deport him
October 1989: Born in Baghdad
December 2013: Applied for a visitor’s visa and is fingerprinted before flying to the UK from the UAE
April 2014: Arrived in Britain legally and then claimed asylum six days later, claiming to be Syrian.
November 2014: His first claim is rejected as the Home Office and a judge don’t believe he is Syrian, because he speaks Iraqi Arabic and can’t answer basic questions about Syria
April 2015: Lost appeal having not even turned up to the hearing
August 2015: Lost challenge to that appeal – but the Home Office then fails to deport him
2017: Applied again under his alias Enzo Almeni
2020: That application is throw out
January 2021: He launches yet another appeal
November 2021: Blows himself up using a homemade bomb outside Liverpool’s Women’s Hospital
Despite his paltry asylum case being rejected in November 2014 – he appealed to the First-tier Tribunal but his case was rejected in April 2015. Later that year he turned up at Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral in 2015 saying he wanted to convert. He was then Baptised and confirmed in May 2017.
The Iraqi-born 32-year-old falsely claimed to be of Syrian heritage in asylum applications.
He came to the UK in May 2014 legally, 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 following requests from the BBC – supported by the PA news agency – and The Times show.
The decision dated April 16 of that year, after a hearing in Manchester three days earlier, detailed how Al Swealmeen had been diagnosed with depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
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. He 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 and, considering Al Swealmeen’s 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, as well as being convicted previously 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.
Emad Al Swealmeen, who was baptised and confirmed at the city’s Anglican cathedral in 2017 (left) after being taken in by lay pastor Malcolm Hitchcott (together right), and went on to work as a pizza chef having made repeated asylum applications and appeals, including one under a new identity
Mr Perry foiled the attack by stopping his cab – he is said to have spotted his passenger acting strangely and vibrating
He lived at Home Office-provided accommodation in Sutcliffe Street, in the Kensington area of Liverpool, but since April had rented a self-contained flat in Rutland Avenue, the inquest heard.
Officials confirmed that in January last year Al Swealmeen launched another first-tier tribunal appeal which was still outstanding at the time of the attack, suggesting he had recently submitted a fresh asylum claim to the Home Office which 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 once his asylum claim, and subsequent appeal, was rejected.
When contacted by PA, the Home Office 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.
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 press, the tribunal’s president Judge Michael Clements accepted that in this instance the ‘public interest element is such that this outweighs the usual practice’.