Words by Connor Drescher, Staff Writer
Trigger warnings for violence and death.
A man who detonated a home-made explosive device outside of Liverpool Women’s Hospital on Remembrance Sunday (the 14th November) has been identified as 32-year-old Enzo Almeni.
Almeni was confirmed as the only fatality, after the device detonated in a taxi shortly before 11:00 GMT on Sunday morning. The driver of the vehicle, David Perry, managed to escape just seconds before the vehicle was consumed by flames.
Assistant Chief Constable Russ Jackson, The Head of Counter Terrorism Policing North-West, noted that an unintentional detonation has not yet been ruled out, and that it is possible that the device was not supposed to go off when it did.
Counter terrorism police arrested four men in the hours following the incident, but they have since been released without charge. No link to Remembrance Sunday events taking place near the hospital has been identified although Jackson confirmed that this was a ‘line of inquiry’ which his officers would be looking into.
Jackson also stated that he was unable to confirm reports that the taxi driver, Mr Perry, locked the doors of the vehicle after escaping, trapping Almeni inside with the bomb. Perry’s wife Rachael said it had been an “utter miracle” that he had survived without life-threatening injuries and he has since been released from hospital.
Almeni was Jordanian but born in Iraq, according to one family friend in Jordan. However, he was undergoing an appeal process for asylum in the UK at the time of the incident. His former church, St. Philomens in Toxteth, confirmed that he converted to Christianity from Islam at a ceremony at Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral in 2017, changing his name from ‘Emad Al Swealmeen’ as part of his conversion.
Various sources, including former friends of the suspect and a family friend in Jordan have confirmed that he had a history of mental health issues. Malcolm Hitchott, a former friend of Almeni, said that in the years before the attack he had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act for about six months, due to concerning behaviour involving a knife. Police said that his medical history ‘will form part of the investigation’ and that it would ‘take some time to fully understand’.
The raids on two addresses outside the city centre – one in Rutland Avenue, near Sefton Park, and another in the Kensington area of the city – led to four arrests, while properties believed to be connected to the suspect Almeni were extensively searched. Following interviews with those who were arrested, police said they were ‘satisfied’ with the accounts they had provided and the individuals were subsequently released.
Police also confirmed that a ‘controlled explosion’ had been carried out as a precaution in the Sefton Park area at about 16:00 GMT on Remembrance Day as part of the investigation, but posed no wider risk to the public.
No clear motivation for the attack has been identified at this time and police investigations continue.
Reverend Brian Elfick, who presides over the congregation at Almeni’s former church has said that another member of his congregation, also an asylum seeker, has received a death threat in the wake of the attack. He commented ‘”because St Philemon’s has a number of asylum seekers, some on the fringes of church life are fearful of coming to church, but we expect that fear to pass.’
He also added that he believed Almeni was ‘a genuine Christian’.
Editor’s Note; details are correct at time of writing 22/11/21