A shocked Christian couple who welcomed Liverpool terror suspect Emad Al Swealmeen into their home say they “loved him”.
Malcolm and Elizabeth Hitchcott were horrified to discover Al Swealmeen was behind an explosion outside Liverpool Women's Hospital on Remembrance Sunday.
Thanks to the quick thinking and bravery of taxi driver, David Perry, the blast killed only the suspect himself as it went off inside his car just before 11am.
The Hitchcotts took in Al Swealmeen for eight months in 2017 and described him as a pretty artistic, “quiet and well mannered” man.
He was named by the authorities on Monday and is understood to have converted to Christianity after arriving in Britain.
Mrs Hitchcott said: “It’s so terribly sad. We just loved him. He was a lovely guy and we are so shocked. It’s all too much.”
They said he arrived in the UK via Dubai in 2014 seeking asylum. It is believed his case had been decided and rejected at first. He then renewed his application in November 2017.
The couple told how he never spoke about his time in Syria or Iraq or about Islam.
They said he was born in Iraq where his mum came from. His father was from Syria.
“He came to the Cathedral seeking to learn Christianity, he was looking to convert. He did get confirmed on 27th March 2017,” Mr Hitchcott said.
They did say he had mental health issues but added: “We are shocked because a less likely candidate you could not imagine,” he said.
Reports claimed Al Swealmeen also went by the name Enzo Almeni to sound more 'western'.
It is claimed he suffered from mental health problems and had a previous conviction for carrying a knife in 2014, but it was not made known to MI5.
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Searches are underway at addresses on Rutland Avenue and Sutcliffe Street, where officers say Al Swealmeen previously lived.
"Significant items" have been recovered, counter-terror police said.
According to MailOnline, Al Swealmeen is believed to have spent a large part of his life in Iraq, where his mother came from.
He then changed his name in honour of Ferrari founder Enzo Ferrari and to 'sound less Muslim' in a bid to help his asylum application.
Mr Hitchcott said the suspect was "destitute" around the time he was confirmed as a Christian.
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