The suicide bomber who blew himself up outside a Liverpool hospital might not have been ideologically motivated, it emerged yesterday.
Police have yet to find any evidence that failed asylum seeker Emad Al Swealmeen, 32, conspired with or was inspired by a terror group.
Officers say the attacker did not use an explosive known as ‘Mother of Satan’ for his bomb. This was used by Islamist terrorists in the 2015 Paris attacks, the Manchester Arena bombing and the failed Parsons Green Tube attack, both in 2017.
Detectives are now trying to trace Al Swealmeen’s movements to discover whether he bought his explosives online or on the high street.
Experts now fear the bomber constructed his home-made improvised explosive device (IED) using seasonal fireworks.
A former counter-terror official told The Telegraph: ‘The white smoke that can be seen billowing out of the cab could indicate the use of gunpowder and there is also a flash within the cab itself which could be powder burning.
‘It is possible to construct homemade devices using fireworks, but it still requires a degree of expertise and planning.’
There are suspicions that he might have followed a recipe for the material used by the 7/7 bombers who targeted London in 2005.
A businessman who employed Emad Al Swealmeen (above) at his pizza takeaway for several months in 2016 said he was a ‘nice, polite guy’
Malcolm and Elizabeth Hitchcott gave Al Swealmeen a room in their home for eight months in 2017
One theory is that the bomber was suffering a mental health crisis. He is understood to have been devastated at his continued failure to gain asylum here.
Worryingly, no one who knew him raised the alarm about his behaviour. His local mental health trust said he had previously been receiving help, but was no longer a patient.
A Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust spokesman said: ‘We can confirm Emad Al Swealmeen had previously accessed our services but was not a service user at the time of the incident.’
Friends said Al Swealmeen had wrestled with depression and was sectioned in 2014 after he was rejected for asylum for the first time.
They recalled how the bomber was so ‘car mad’ that he nicknamed himself ‘GT’ and had the initials tattooed on his arm along with a chequered flag.
He changed his name to Enzo Almeni – after the Ferrari boss – and loved go-karting so much that that he bought his own helmet and got friends to sign it.
He was a regular at the TeamSport Go-karting track, on Liverpool’s Brunswick docks, often going with his housemates or on his own to race laps.
Friends said they were astounded that the ‘quiet and bashful’ young man, who was also a big fan of country singer Johnny Cash, was behind the Poppy Day bomb.
The Christian couple who took bomber in described his love for motor racing and, particularly, for Ferrari
One, who knew Al Swealmeen through his job at a pizza takeaway, said: ‘He called himself GT because he loved cars, it was a little nickname he gave himself, he even had it tattooed on his arm.
‘He was quiet, but not in a weird way, he was just really shy. I nearly fell off my chair when I saw his picture. Of all the people that worked in the takeaway he would have been bottom of my list to do something so sick.
‘He was reserved, but not like he was hiding something, more like he was lacking in confidence. He did speak to me about feeling depressed one time, but didn’t really go into it. At the time he lived in a shared house with a few others and all he cared about was go-karting.
‘He showed me his helmet that he had bought, he was really excited about it. He went go-karting a few times on his own, he was so into it, and I remember him getting a tattoo and showing it off.
‘He also loved Johnny Cash and he told me he wanted to get a Johnny Cash tattoo too.’
Malcolm Hitchcott, 77, a lay pastor and retired Army officer who gave Al Swealmeen a room in his home for eight months in 2017, remembered accompanying him on a trip to the track.
Pictures on social media show him in racing overalls at the karting venue, where he took part in ‘Top Gun’ marathon karting races and ‘50-lap’ events. ‘He got me to sign his helmet, rather like Lewis Hamilton signs helmets [for fans],’
Mr Hitchcott added: ‘He never spoke about a particular driver but he loved Ferrari, he was a Ferrari man. His email address was Ferrari-related too. He was very interested in motor racing.’
Al Swealmeen is understood to have ordered a taxi from Rutland Avenue to the Crown Street hospital shortly before 11am on Remembrance Sunday
The indoor facility boasts 40mph karts and several of Liverpool’s sporting greats such as Jamie Carragher, Sam Quek and Tony Bellew on its celebrity leaderboard.
But a source said Al Swealmeen had not been to the track for over a year. Last night the businessman who employed Al Swealmeen at his pizza takeaway for several months in around 2016 said he was a ‘nice, polite guy’.
‘I was shocked when I saw who it was,’ the man, who did not want to be named, said.
‘I still can’t believe it. He was a nice, polite guy. He wasn’t a practising Muslim, he told me he lived with a Christian family, and he definitely wasn’t a fanatic.
‘I’ve employed Muslims before, some of them don’t like touching ham if it isn’t Halal, but he didn’t seem worried about that.
‘He worked part-time for me, he had a visa and was legit. I paid him about £50 a day.
‘Never in a million years would I think him capable of something like that.’
The friend agreed Al Swealmeen was not religious.
‘He never really talked about religion,’ he added.
‘I didn’t think he practised any faith, although I do remember him telling me one time he had been to church and was trying to get to know people there.
‘I would love to know what happened to him over the past few years. He must have been manipulated or corrupted. The man I knew and what he did on Sunday – they are like night and day.’