A taxi driver has been praised as a hero for saving many lives at the Liverpool Women’s Hospital when he locked an alleged suicide bomber in his vehicle. The bomber detonated his device in the car, killing himself but no one else. The driver escaped with minimal injuries.
The explosion utterly destroyed David Perry’s taxi cab outside the hospital, minutes, before the 11am silence, which was held on Remembrance Sunday. It is believed the terrorist, who has been identified as Emad Jamil Al-Swealmeen, originally planned on targeting the Service of Remembrance at the Anglican Cathedral, where there had gathered a crowd of 1,200 veterans, military personnel, and families.
However, he was prevented from reaching the service by traffic queues and road closures, so he asked Mr. Perry to be taken to the nearby Women’s Hospital instead. The device partially concealed by Al-Swealmeen’s clothing was a homemade explosive made with ball-bearings. In the wake of the failed attack, the terrorist threat level in the UK has been raised from ‘substantial’ to ‘severe’, with the intelligence community claiming follow-up strikes are likely.
The exact details of what transpired in the taxi cab are elusive. Some reports claim Mr. Perry locked the doors of the cab and leaped to safety just before the blast, while others claim he locked the doors as or seconds after the bomb detonated, flinging himself out of the vehicle as it went up in smoke and flame. In either case, Mr. Perry’s wife said it was a “miracle” he survived and thanked his “guardian angels” for watching over him.
A friend of Mr. Perry said: “They couldn’t get there [the Remembrance Service], the roads were blocked off. The man changed his mind and asked to go to the city center instead. But when they were going past the Women’s Hospital he said to pull in there. It was just before 11.
“David noticed that the man had some kind of light attached to his clothing and was messing around with it, it didn’t look right at all. I don’t know how he’s done it with a split second’s thought but David’s jumped out and locked the car with this guy in the back. As soon as he did, it’s gone off. David’s the luckiest man in Britain as well as the most heroic, if this guy got in the hospital God knows what could have happened.”
Police confirmed on Monday that the incident is being treated as a terror attack. Three suspects were arrested on Sunday: a 29-year old, 26-year old and 21-year old. A 20-year old suspect was also detained for questioning on Monday.
It is understood that Al-Swealmeen was a 32-year old man originally from Jordan who applied to come to the UK as an asylum seeker. He had mental health issues and was previously arrested for possession of a knife. Since he was living as a Christian convert, counter-terrorism agencies have not yet declared whether the attack was a case of Islamist extremism, but think it is Remembrance Day related.
Mr. Perry discharged himself from hospital the same day of the attack with only slight injuries, to free up beds.