A Christian couple who opened their home to Liverpool suicide bomber, Emad Jamil Al Swealmeen have now come out to express their shock, saying he converted to Christianity years ago and they can’t believe he will be involved in such an attack as he talked ‘passionately about Jesus’
Enzo Almeni, was killed after a homemade ball-bearing device exploded inside a taxi he rode to Liverpool Women’s Hospital just seconds before the 11am minute’s silence, on Sunday, November 14, UK police said.
Al Swealmeen, 32, was a pizza chef who fled the Middle East several years ago and changed his name to Enzo Almeni to sound more Western as he applied for asylum in the UK.He had mental health issues and was arrested and sectioned in 2014 for carrying knife around Liverpool.
He converted to Christianity soon after arriving in the UK, having attended Bible classes and services at Liverpool’s imposing Anglican Cathedral. The site was originally thought to have been the target of his failed Remembrance Day plot.
His pastor and friend Malcolm Hitchcott gave him Bible study courses led by Mr Hitchcott at the cathedral and together with his wife, Elizabeth Hitchvott, Enzo was converted to Christianity on March 27, 2017. Days later the couple, both 77, offered to put up Al Swealmeen in their home rent-free as he had nowhere else to live.
On Monday night, November 15, a shocked Mr Hitchcott said he felt ‘numbed’ that the ‘lovely man’ who stayed with him in the suburb of Aigburth was behind Sunday’s explosion.
‘My wife and I will now have to try to come to terms with this, the fact we had this man living with us for eight months,’ the former soldier said.
He said the typically quiet Al Swealmeen would ‘talk endlessly and passionately about Jesus’. Asked why he thought Al Swealmeen converted to Christianity, Mr Hitchcott said: ‘A lot of asylum seekers do not see much in Islam [for them].’
He said he and his wife got to know Al Swealmeen ‘very well… or we thought we did’.
The couple cannot recall Al Swealmeen ever speaking of anything ‘political’, and remember only one ‘flashpoint’.
Mr Hitchcott said: ‘He was involved in an incident prior to our meeting where he was found by police with a pretty big knife on the main Churchill Way flyover.
‘I don’t know if he threatened anyone but as a result of that he was sectioned for several months.
‘He obviously had some mental instability because one day he accused me of opening his mail. He came in and said, ‘Is there something you want to know about me’, and accused me. I told him we wouldn’t dream of it. He did come and apologise afterwards.
‘He had received a small package, he told me it was something for a friend of his… makes me wonder about it now. He obviously didn’t want me poking my nose in and got very sensitive. Otherwise we were on the best of terms with him.
‘If we wanted a job doing he would do it, no problem.’
Mrs Hitchcott said Al Swealmeen would go to the food bank with them and do chores around the house. ‘He was fairly private but very industrious,’ she added. ‘He loved to draw, he was very interested in art and could cook a mean pizza.’
Mr Hitchcott said he hadn’t seen Al Swealmeen for several years, his wife bumped into him two years ago in the town centre.
‘It must have been around spring 2019 because it was before Covid,’ she said.
‘He told me he was doing a cake decorating course, he was really enthusiastic about it. He said he would keep in touch but I didn’t hear any more.’