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Security Brief: Weapons and Tactics Week of November 25, 2021

Week of Monday, November 15, 2021 | Issue 05

Jonathan Petrovich, Weapons and Tactics Team


CCTV footage of the Liverpool Bombing[1]


Date: November 14, 2021

Location: Liverpool, England

Parties involved: Liverpool Women’s Hospital; Emad Al Swealmeen

The event: On Sunday, November 14, 2021, the suspected extremist Emad Al Swealmeen detonated an explosive device inside a taxi in front of Liverpool Women’s Hospital.[2] Emad Al Swealmeen who was born in Iraq, came to the United Kingdom (UK) as an asylum seeker and had converted to Christianity.[3] Al Swealmeen was the only one killed in the explosion. Four men have since been arrested or detained for questioning as the investigation remains ongoing. The explosive was detonated inside the car and contained various ball bearings as well as other materials.[4] Al Swealmeen bought the parts for this device over a period of seven months using various aliases and multiple phones and devices for remote purchases.[5] The explosive component of the device, HMTD, can be created through consumer goods.[6] This attack occurred less than one mile away from a memorial service at Liverpool Cathedral in honor of Remembrance Sunday, a memorial event where Britain commemorates those who have fought and died during the two World Wars and other conflicts.[7] In response to the attack, the UK has raised their terror level to severe.[8]

The Implications:

  • It is likely that this attack was planned months in advance given the attacker purchased parts over a seven month period. It is likely Al Swealmeen was able to avoid detection through purchasing these goods in small amounts using various names. It is likely that other attackers will do the same in the future. The longer these attackers go unnoticed, it is likely it will be harder to stop them.

  • It is unknown if the attack was supported by any terrorist organization. Al Swealmeen’s conversion to Christianity is likely a new tactic that he used to throw off suspicion while collecting the necessary bomb-making material over a seven month period. It is likely extremist organizations will adopt this new tactic of masking their intentions through the conversion to other religions, and use this in future attacks.

  • The components of the bomb make it highly likely extremists will continue to avoid detection when collecting the necessary ingredients as none of the products alone are illegal or dangerous.

  • Given the contents of the bomb using ball bearings and other materials for maximum damage towards crowds it is likely the intended target was the Remembrance Sunday event held at Liverpool Cathedral, which is only a mile away from the hospital Remembrance Sunday memorial services attract large crowds of people paying their respects.

Specialty reports are designed to inform clients of existing and emerging threats worldwide. To defeat terrorists and individuals intent on harming, it is critical to understand and investigate them. We collect and analyze intelligence on terrorists and extremists, their organizations, individuals who are threats, and their tactics and attacks to develop solutions to detect, deter, and defeat any act of terrorism or violence against our client. We also conduct investigations to identify persons of interest, threats, and determine the likelihood of a threat and how to stop them. To find out more about our products and services visit us at counterterrorismgroup.com.

 

[1]CCTV footage of the Liverpool Bombing” by Screenshot/Twitter licensed under Public Domain

[2] Liverpool Women’s Hospital bomb: CCTV video shows dramatic moment taxi explodes in terror attack, Inews, November 2021, https://inews.co.uk/news/liverpool-womens-hospital-bomb-video-cctv-footage-taxi-explosion-terror-attack-1301205

[3] Police Say Liverpool Bomber Acted Alone, Bought Parts Over 7 Months, Tassco, November 2021, https://tassco.org/police-say-liverpool-bomber-acted-alone-bought-parts-over-7-months/

[4] Liverpool bomb was made using homemade explosive with ball bearings, The Guardian, November 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/nov/19/liverpool-bomb-was-made-using-home-made-explosive-with-ball-bearings

[5] Ibid

[6] Hexamethylene Triperoxide Diamine: Indicators of Acquisition, Manufacture, and Considerations for Response, NCTC, November 2020, https://www.dni.gov/files/NCTC/documents/jcat/firstresponderstoolbox/104s_-_First_Responders_Toolbox_-_Hexamethylene_Triperoxide_Diamine_HMTD-survey.pdf

[7] Liverpool terrorist incident caused by man who brought explosive device into taxi, police say, CNN, November 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/11/15/uk/liverpool-hospital-car-explosion-monday-gbr-intl/index.html

[8] UK police: Taxi bomb could have caused 'significant' harm, ABC News, November 2021, https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/uk-police-taxi-bomb-caused-significant-harm-81272977

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