The man who blew himself up in a taxi in Liverpool was a Syrian asylum seeker. British police have identified him as 32-year-old Emad Al Swealmeen, according to British media reports.
After the terror incident, the United Kingdom raised the terror threat to ‘serious’, the second-highest level. That means that another attack is very likely. Last month parliamentarian David Amess was murdered. That, too, is considered terrorism.
The Syrian was in a taxi that dropped him off in front of a women’s hospital in Liverpool. He was carrying an explosive device that he probably assembled himself.
The driver managed to escape just in time. He was slightly injured. He would have locked the passenger, whom he thought suspicious, in the taxi.
However, that story has not yet been confirmed. Police have since arrested four men.
Yesterday around 11 a.m. local time, a taxi went up in flames near Liverpool Women’s Hospital. The male passenger died, and the taxi driver was injured. According to British media, the co-driver wanted to be taken by taxi to a cathedral, where the end of the First World War was commemorated. About 2,000 people attended, according to media in Liverpool.
The taxi driver had to make a detour due to roadblocks. At one point, his taxi stopped at a hospital not far from the cathedral.
The driver, who had doubts about his passenger’s intentions, locked the man before he tried to get out of his vehicle at the entrance of the hospital. The passenger then detonated a bomb in the car. The taxi driver sustained minor injuries as a result of the explosion but escaped from the taxi in time after the explosive went off before it caught fire and burned out completely. The passenger died and was pronounced dead on the spot.
Three men were arrested in the Kensington borough after the explosion, it was announced yesterday. The suspects are 29, 26, and 21 years old. In the meantime, a fourth suspect (20) has also been arrested on the basis of terrorism legislation, the police reported today. All suspects are being interrogated by the counter-terrorist unit. It is not clear if and how they were involved in the explosion. According to the police, “important objects” were found during searches at various locations.
The police also say that the passenger was picked up by the taxi about a 10-minute drive from the hospital. The vehicle was blown up from the inside of the women’s hospital by an explosive device, which is an improvised explosive device. “So far, we’re assuming this was built by the passenger in the taxi,” said Russ Jackson of the anti-terrorist agency. The police say they believe they know the identity of the occupant, but they are not releasing anything until it is officially confirmed.
There is official talk of a terrorist incident. The motive is still unclear. Jackson says officers investigating the incident “cannot at this time establish a connection” with the events on Remembrance Sunday near the hospital. He does confirm that this is “a research avenue”.
The taxi driver is identified in the British press as David Perry. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in an initial response that it appears that the man “acted with incredible alertness and courage,” reports Sky News. Furthermore, the prime minister does not want to say much. “This is an ongoing investigation, so I cannot comment on the details.” The driver has since been released from the hospital and is recovering at home.
Liverpool Mayor Joanne Anderson has praised the driver for his “heroic efforts”. According to her, it was soon clear to authorities that the man had locked his passenger in the taxi by locking the doors. This “avoided something that could have been an absolutely terrible disaster,” Anderson said in a BBC radio program.