Many troubling questions have been raised by the horrifying terror attack in Liverpool that occurred on Remembrance Sunday. 

The main question is: What was Emad Al Swealmeen, a suicide bomber, doing in Britain? Given that his 2014 attempt to apply for asylum here has been rejected repeatedly in 2014.

Why wasn’t he deported as soon as possible seven years ago?

Instead, disgracefully, Al Swealmeen remained in the UK, only to be sectioned under the Mental Health Act for waving a ‘large’ knife in public and to work as a pizza chef, while being housed in accommodation in Liverpool with other asylum seekers.

All this before he embarked on his sickening terrorist mission last weekend – which seems to have narrowly avoided a historic atrocity at a place of worship on one of the most sacred days in the British calendar. 

Emad Al Swealmeen is understood to have ordered a taxi from Rutland Avenue to the Crown Street hospital shortly before 11am on Remembrance Sunday, when the device then exploded

Emad Al Swealmeen was believed to have requested a taxi ride from Rutland Avenue towards the Crown Street hospital just before 11am Remembrance Sunday. The device then went off.

Is there any more evidence of the many failings of our asylum and immigration system?

The time has now come for root-and-branch reform of this broken network – after years of open abuse, flouted rules and failed opportunities.

Recent reports I have written for Henry Jackson Society show chilling links between terrorist acts and a minority of asylum seekers. 

My report found that since 1998, about a quarter of ‘foreign-national offenders (FNOs)’ convicted in Britain of Islamist terror-related offences either claimed or were granted asylum here – although it must be said we don’t yet know Al Swealmeen’s true motives.

These attacks coincided with an unprecedented collapse of deportations.

Ten thousand failed asylum seekers were deported by Britain in 2010. But, last year, that number fell to a pitiful 1,500 – despite the growing clamour for Home Secretary Priti Patel to get a grip on the crisis.

Images of unsafely loaded inflatable boats traversing the Channel each day demonstrate that tens to thousands of asylum seekers continue arriving at our shores annually.

Most asylum seekers came to Europe in search of freedom from real oppression. They seek nothing more than the chance to build a new life – though it must be said that Britain is rarely the first safe country they reach before they do claim asylum.

But in recent years, as the statistics show, far too many asylum seekers have repaid this country’s welcome with a deadly assault on all we hold dear.

So, despite the political will, why has the problem been getting worse – and why are so few failed asylum seekers ever removed from the country?

The causes are complex – but at the heart of it is a brigade of human-rights activists and Left-leaning lawyers acting as a roadblock against the public interest. 

Khairi Saadallah was born in a wealthy Libyan household and claimed asylum successfully here in 2012.

Reading terror attacker Khairi Saadallah is serving a whole-life sentence for the murders of three men in Forbury Gardens

Khairi Saadallah, a reading terror attack attacker is currently serving a life sentence for three murders in Forbury Gardens

In 2018, he was given a further five years’ leave to remain despite a string of convictions (running in total between 2015 and 2019) that eventually saw the cannabis-smoking Saadallah imprisoned for 15 offences including assault, possession of a knife and racially aggravated harassment.

He was eligible for deportation thanks to the length of his sentence – but instead he remained in the UK amid concern for – you guessed it – his ‘human rights’. 

How did he repay Britain for its sanctuary? By stabbing three innocent people – all gay men – to death in a park in Reading last June.

His case is not only sad, but so can the one of Ahmed Hassan (a teenager from Iraq who sought asylum in Britain) and detonated his homemade bomb in London’s tube station in 2017. He injured 51 people.

Al Swealmeen was the Liverpool bomber. His 2014 asylum request was denied because officials thought he had been lying about his origins.

Now it is high time that the Home Office created a new ‘taskforce’ for asylum reform: an expert committee charged with providing policy proposals to create a more security-oriented approach.

They will need to identify and exploit the weaknesses of the system and introduce risk assessments. 

It is essential that they carefully examine all connections between asylum seekers with terrorist activity and other criminality.

This is particularly important given the Government’s new Afghan citizens’ resettlement scheme, which will see thousands of Taliban-fleeing Afghans arrive on these shores. 

It is clear that many people find Britain a refuge from persecution. When it comes to screening for the political orientations and susceptibility of extremism in newcomers, there’s no excuse for complacency.

Finally, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) must work tirelessly to persuade other governments – especially those in Africa and the Middle East – to improve their records on human rights and criminal sanctions.

This will allow the Home Office to more easily deport criminals from abroad.

The British public meanwhile, are justifiably angry that this country’s laudable benevolence and altruism are being crassly exploited.

Maybe Sunday’s events will change this. It is right for us to take pride and joy in our long history of successfully rehoming persecution victims, but this should not be at the cost or safety of others.

Most liberal institutions respond to such views with outrage. They can howl.

Emad Al Swealmeen – I refuse to call him by his adopted name – has shown our country once and for all the deadly consequences of our failed asylum system.

Let the legacy of this pathetic individual be a warning to the Government that they must act – and now.

  • Henry Jackson Society Research Fellow Dr Rakib Elsan