Liverpool bomber Emad Al Swealmeen had been buying bomb components since at least April, police have revealed.

Assistant Chief Constable Russ Jackson said that the Iraq-born man had rented a property in Liverpool seven months ago and started making “relevant purchases” for his homemade bomb “at least” since that time.

In an update issued on Wednesday, November 17, ACC Jackson said: “A complex picture is emerging over the purchases of the component parts of the device, we know that Al Swealmeen rented the property from April this year and we believe relevant purchases have been made at least since that time.

“We have now traced a next of kin for Al Swealmeen who has informed us that he was born in Iraq.”

He also said that the 32-year-old asylum seeker had suffered from periods of mental illness that will “form part of the investigation and will take some time to fully understand”.

Read more on this: What all the UK terror threat levels mean

'Fast moving investigation'

Mr Jackson added: “There is much comment in the media about Al Swealmeen and it is clear that he was known to many people. We continue to appeal for people who knew him, especially those who associated with him this year as we try and piece together the events leading up to this incident and the reasons for it.

“At this time we are not finding any link to others in the Merseyside area of concern but this remains a fast moving investigation and as more becomes known we cannot rule out action against others.”

Since the attack, Home Secretary Priti Patel has claimed that Al Swealmeen - who reportedly arrived in the UK from the Middle East in 2014 and had an application for asylum rejected the following year - had been able to exploit Britain’s “dysfunctional” immigration system by staying in the country.

The MP claimed the system was a “complete merry-go-round” with a “whole industry” devoted to defending the rights of individuals intent on causing harm.

Christian convert Al Swealmeen died in the blast in a taxi outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital shortly before 11am on Remembrance Sunday.

According to newspaper reports, Ms Patel told reporters on her flight to the US capital that the case showed why the Government was right to reform the asylum system.

“The case in Liverpool was a complete reflection of how dysfunctional, how broken, the system has been in the past, and why I want to bring changes forward,” she was quoted as saying.

“It’s a complete merry-go-round and it has been exploited. A whole sort of professional legal services industry has based itself on rights of appeal, going to the courts day-in day-out at the expense of the taxpayers through legal aid. That is effectively what we need to change.”

What we know so far about the investigation

Official sources told the PA news agency the current understanding is still that the hospital was the intended target.

The inquiry is examining, among other possibilities, whether the main charge on the device failed to explode and if the homemade explosive TATP was used.

Searches have been carried out at the property in Rutland Avenue that had been rented since April by Al Swealmeen, and a second property in Sutcliffe Street, where officers believe he previously lived.

The incident has been declared a terrorist attack and the UK terror threat level has since been raised from substantial to severe, meaning an attack is “highly likely” rather than “likely”.