A Christian couple who took Liverpool terror suspect Emad al Swealmeen with them after he came to England told them how they “loved” him and were devastated by the news.
Police said Al Swealmeen died when a homemade explosive detonated in a taxi outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital just before 11am on Memorial Day Sunday.
He was named by authorities on Monday – as it turns out he may have converted to Christianity after arriving in England.
Malcolm and Elizabeth Hitchcott took on Al Swealmeen in 2015 after first meeting him.
Ms Hitchcott said, “This is very sad. We just loved it. He was a lovely man and we were so shocked. It’s all too much.”
They said he came to the UK via Dubai in 2014 to seek asylum. It is believed that his case was initially settled and dismissed. He later renewed his application in November 2017.
The couple talked about how they never talked about their time in Syria, Iraq or Islam.
They said he was born in Iraq where his mother came from. His father was Syrian.
“He came to the Cathedral to learn about Christianity, he wanted to convert. Approved March 27, 2017,” said Mr. Hitchcott.
He lived with them for eight months in 2017 and they said he was a “quiet and good-natured” man who was also quite artistic.
They said he had mental health issues but added: “We were shocked because he’s a less likely candidate than you could have imagined,” he said.
Reports claimed that Al Swealmeen also used the name Enzo Almeni.
He allegedly suffered from mental health problems and was previously convicted of carrying a knife, but was unknown to MI5.
Searches are continuing at addresses on Rutland Boulevard and Sutcliffe Street, where authorities say Al Swealmeen lived previously.
Counter-terrorism police said “important items” had been recovered.
According to MailOnline, Al Swealmeen is believed to have spent most of his life in Iraq, where his mother came from.
He later changed his name to ‘less Muslim’ in honor of Ferrari’s founder, Enzo Ferrari, and to help him apply for asylum.
Hitchcott said the suspect was “poor” when confirmed to be a Christian.
The mail reported that it wanted to attack Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral, where hundreds of people gathered to attend a Memorial Day service.
Det Chf Insp Andrew Meeks, of the North West Counter-Terrorism Police, named the suspect this evening, said: “Our investigations are ongoing but at this stage we strongly believe that the deceased is 32-year-old Emad Al Swealmeen.
“Al Swealmeen is connected to Rutland Avenue and Sutcliffe Street addresses where searches are still ongoing.
“We believe he lived at the Sutcliffe Street address for a while and recently leased the Rutland Street address.
Get the latest news delivered to your inbox. Sign up for the free Mirror newsletter
“Our focus is on the Rutland Street address, where we continue to salvage important items.
“We continue to appeal for any information regarding this incident and have now disclosed to us any information the public may have about Al Swealmeen, no matter how minor.”
Four people have so far been arrested under terrorism laws in connection with the attack in Liverpool’s Kensington district.