Emad Al Swealmeen was handed a National Insurance number by the Department for Work and Pensions in November 2019, despite his asylum application being rejected in 2015, it was reported
The suspected terrorist whose homemade bomb detonated outside a Women’s Hospital was granted a National Insurance number four years after his first bid for asylum was rejected, it has been reported.
The Department for Work and Pensions approved Emad Al Swealmeen’s application even though it was previously ruled he could not stay in the UK.
The decision could have made it easier for him to build the lifestyle to plot and fund the ball bearing-filled device, which almost killed expectant mums and their babies, LiverpoolECHO reports.
Al Swealmeen was handed a National Insurance number by the DWP in November 2019, it was reported.
At the time, he was living in specialist asylum accommodation in Liverpool and it was the same home where counter-terror detectives found “suspicious items” in the aftermath of the Remembrance Sunday explosion.
It is alleged Government agencies knew where Al Swealmeen was living and were in communication with him despite having rejected his bid to remain four years earlier.
It is understood that Al Swealmeen’s successful National Insurance application may have come after he was granted the right to work.
This permission could have been granted if those vetting him didn’t find his failed asylum application from 2015.
However, it is thought that Al Swealmeen made at least one further bid for asylum, which was knocked back in 2020.
The Government explains on its website: “The Home Office may grant permission to work to asylum seekers whose claim has been outstanding for more than 12 months through no fault of their own.”
The then Immigration Minister Caroline Noakes confirmed this process in April 2019, seven months before Al Swealmeen was told his National Insurance application had been successful.
If his later application had been hit with administrative delays he could have taken advantage to be able to work get permission to work while he waited for a decision.
If had done this he would have only had the right to work in jobs that feature on the Shortage Occupation List.
Details of what Al Swealmeen did in Liverpool are scarce, but it is known to have worked in a takeaway in Sefton in 2016 and enrolled on a cake decorating course at the City of Liverpool College in 2018.
While a National Insurance number is not proof of the right to stay in the UK, it is likely to boost his credibility when applying for roles, it was reported.
Home Office statistics showed 56,520 claims had been waiting for more than six months at the end of September 2021.
The Refugee Council branded the system as “ineffective and riddled with backlogs”.
Questions over the circumstances of Al Swealmean’s immigration status and whether problems with assessing his latest asylum application gave him the opportunity to work and receive a National Insurance number are likely to be asked.
There are more questions over how he was able to fund his bomb-making plot.
Al Swealmeen is known to have begun renting a flat in April 2021 and counter-terror police believe that is when he had started plotting his bomb attack.
This was the property in which he is believed to have turned into a bomb-producing lair and where he was picked up from in a taxi that he later blew up in the hospital car park, killing himself and injuring driver David Perry.
Detectives have said the explosion could have been far more serious, with Counter Terror Police North West revealing: “It was made using homemade explosive and had ball bearings attached to it which would have acted as shrapnel. Had it detonated in different circumstances we believe it would have caused significant injury or death.”
It is not known when or how he was radicalised.
It is understood he arrived in the UK in 2014 and lodged an asylum claim, in which an applicant must be able to show they have left their country and are unable to go back “because you fear persecution”.
It was unsuccessful and an appeal was refused.
A judge threw out the challenge after concluding there were no grounds to overturn the decision in 2015.
This meant that Al Swealmeen, who was born in Iraq, did not have the right to stay in the UK.
In the same year, he was baptised but also appeared before Liverpool Magistrates’ Court and admitted a charge of possession of a blade in a public place.
Reports suggest he was handed a conditional discharge, but it is believed he was also sectioned shortly afterwards.
Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, which provides most of the specialist mental health care in the city, has confirmed he had accessed its services but was not a service user at the time of his death.
It was around this time Al Swealmeen was taken in by Malcolm and Elizabeth Hitchcott, a devout Christian couple for around eight months.
They said he converted from Islam to Christianity and he was confirmed in 2017, but “lost touch” with the church in 2018.
The Hitchcotts said Al Swealmeen would sometimes go by the alias Enzo Almeni due to his love of Italian car racing legend Enzo Ferrari and to appear “more Western” in his asylum bid.
However, his application for a National Insurance number was made under his birth name, and not his ‘Westernised’ alias, the ECHO understands, and was submitted after he had moved into Sutcliffe Street accommodation provided to him.
The ECHO approached the Home Office with details of Al Swealmeen’s National Insurance number claim but the organisation declined to comment.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.