U.K. Bombing Suspect 'Committed Christian,' Police Say He Acted Alone, Planned for Months

The suspect killed in a Liverpool taxi explosion spent at least six months crafting the bomb and appears to have acted alone, British police said, according to the Associated Press.

On Sunday morning, 32-year-old Emad Al Swealmeen stepped into a taxi and asked to be taken to Liverpool Women's Hospital. After pulling up to the hospital, an explosive device was set off, killing Al Swealmeen.

The taxi driver, David Perry, survived, but was injured escaping the vehicle.

The motive for the attack is still not known AP reported.

Born in Iraq, Al Swealmeen had converted from Islam to Christianity and was a devout follower, clergy at two Liverpool churches told AP.

Russ Jackson, the head of counterterrorism policing for northwest England, said Al Swealmeen had rented property in Liverpool in April. He said the suspect had been making "relevant purchases" for an explosive device since at least then.

The Liverpool Women's Hospital specializes in a range of fields, including gynecology, midwifery, postnatal care and pregnancy termination. Investigators are not sure whether the hospital was the intended target.

ABC News reported that four men in their 20s were detained under the Terrorism Act as part of the investigation but were released on Monday. Jackson said the investigators were satisfied with the accounts the men provided when interviewed.

Jackson also told the news organization that police now have a greater understanding of the device and how it was assembled, but they still have many details about the incident to figure out.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Liverpool, bombing, hospital
A suspected bomber who died when his homemade device exploded in a taxi outside a Liverpool hospital was an asylum-seeker from the Middle East who had converted from Islam to Christianity, British police, church officials and others said Tuesday. Above, an aerial view of police activity on Sutcliffe Street in the Kensington area of Liverpool after Sunday's explosion outside Liverpool Women's Hospital killed one person and injured another. Peter Byrne/PA via AP

Police have confirmed that Al Swealmeen was treated in the past for mental illness.

He applied for asylum in Britain in 2014 but was rejected, authorities said. It's unclear what his legal status was at the time of the bombing.

Joy Gambardella, a lay reader at the city's Emmanuel Church, said Al Swealmeen had been a "committed Christian."

"He used to love baking and he did a baking course. He also did pizza-making," Gambardella said. "He used to make cakes for the church and sell them.

"I would never, ever expect he could have done something like that, ever."

The taxi driver, David Perry, escaped from the vehicle before it was engulfed in flames. He was treated in a hospital and released.

Britain's official threat level was raised from substantial to severe—meaning an attack is highly likely—following the blast.

Liverpool, explosion site, forensic officers
British police have released four men arrested under terrorism laws by detectives investigating a homemade bomb explosion in a Liverpool taxi as they work to understand the motives of the suspected bomber, who died in Sunday's blast. Above, forensic police officers walk outside Liverpool Women's Hospital on November 16, 2021. Peter Byrne/PA via AP