Days before the deadly attack, Emad al-Swealmeen, the suspect in the heart of Manchester, England, was preparing to carry out an attack of a greater scale, police say. He had been preparing to launch a bomb attack on Liverpool’s city center, they believe.
Al-Swealmeen, a 23-year-old from Syria, had been planning an attack, “which would be even bigger and more deadly than the device he subsequently detonated on Monday morning,” Manchester Police said.
On Saturday, the Merseyside police chief constable, David Crompton, said “Al-Swealmeen had planned for the attack to take place within days or weeks, and that it had not yet taken place when it did.”
Police say al-Swealmeen first contacted a friend on April 1 and apparently made plans to launch the attack in May, when he was originally due to return to Britain. He claimed to have found bomb-making instructions on the internet, but police found no evidence that al-Swealmeen possessed any explosives or instructions from ISIS.
He returned to Manchester in September to meet the alleged associates who were subsequently charged with helping him and eventually living in the Manchester flat of Osman Suleiman Alcanati, who was not present at the time of the attack, Manchester Police said. On Thursday night, police stormed a house in the Mancs. Two men, one aged 35 and the other 23, were arrested and are suspected of harboring al-Swealmeen. On Saturday, police were still searching another house nearby.
Al-Swealmeen was found dead in a town house on Monday. He is suspected of trying to detonate an improvised explosive device in the marketplace of Burnage in Manchester. The explosion killed Eilidh MacLeod, 14, and Chloe Rutherford, 17, who were visiting their relatives from Northern Ireland.
Al-Swealmeen’s sister had been visiting MacLeod’s funeral at the time of the attack, believing that her brother was safe in the home in which he was living, although police had been in touch with her, having tracked him through social media.
Al-Swealmeen may also have had ties to former Isil militants in Libya.
“The determination of all emergency services personnel, including the police and ambulance service, has been remarkable throughout,” Crompton said. “So too have been the acts of community support we have witnessed in schools, universities and churches. We are all proud of their efforts.”
Terrorist groups have claimed responsibility for Monday’s blast. Police have detained 29 people since the attack, including the two men arrested in Manchester this weekend, but have not yet commented on if anyone other than al-Swealmeen was behind the attack.
Read the full story at The Guardian.
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