Foiled by toilet lock: How Muslim convert set off bombs in error because he couldn’t open door
ByÂ Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 10:04 AM on 16th October 2008
A British Muslim convert with a mental age of ten was unable to blow up a restaurant because he’d locked himself in a toilet.
Nicky Reilly, 22, had gone into the cubicle of an Exeter eaterie to assemble the nailbombs from chemicals in bottles. He then planned to rush among the 50 diners – many of them children – and detonate the devices.
However, he found he couldn’t unfasten the lock and then one of the bombs exploded, setting the others he was holding off.
Reilly, who was groomed over the internet by extremists into becoming a suicide bomber, was arrested when he staggered outside with serious facial injuries.
A CCTV image of Muslim convert Nicky Reilly entering the Giraffe restaurant in Exeter where he launched a failed suicide bomb attack
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Failed attack: Reilly admitted attempted murder after planning to blow up a family restaurant in Exeter
Prosecutor Stuart Baker said: ‘He was unable to open the lock of the cubicle door and come out, by which time the first device had already exploded.’
Anti-terror investigators believe Pakistani radicals targeted Reilly because of his history of mental illness.
A plot was hatched involving the Giraffe restaurant in Exeter, where 50 diners, many with their children, were enjoying the half-term break on May 22 this year.
Yesterday, Reilly, who has changed his name to Mohammad Abdul-Aziz Rashid Saeed-Alim, pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to preparing a terrorist attack and attempted murder.
After the attack police searching his home in Plymouth found a suicide note in which he quoted Osama Bin Laden and evidence that other possible targets had been a police station and a shopping centre.
A large number of extremist websites and a video titled ‘homemade bombs’ were found on his computer.
He had gone online to find out how to make bombs and discuss targets with chatroom contacts in Pakistan.
Officers are still trying to trace the extremist cell that successfully targeted him via his YouTube page â€“ on which he called himself Chechen233.
The case is a chilling echo of terrorist methods in Iraq, where the disabled have been persuaded to blow themselves up.
Reilly’s bungled attack came as a shock to police, but it emerged that the 6ft 3in, 18-stone bomber was ‘known’ to officers.
Yesterday he was remanded in custody for sentencing on November 21.
The judge, Mr Justice Calvert-Smith said Reilly had ‘long nursed an ambition’ to become a martyr.
Reilly, circled in red, was spotted on CCTV shortly before the attack. Below, he is arrested by police after the failed bombing which left him with serious facial injuries
He said: ‘During the early months of 2008 he was in frequent touch with apparently two other people as yet unidentified with whom he discussed his plans and from who he received a certain amount of encouragement and information over the internet using a website called Chechen233.
‘There was some debate, which is revealed by comments on the computer,
about what sort of person should be targeted in due course, whether public servants such as police officers or other public servants or ordinary citizens.
‘In the end the decision was made to target ordinary citizens in a restaurant.’
The bottle bomb with which Nicky Reilly attempted his suicide attack, and right, the scene in the toilet cubicle after the device exploded in his face
Over several months, the court heard, he bought enough materials to make two types of bomb.
The judge said: ‘He appears to have tried to increase the potential for injury and death both to himself and others by putting chemicals in glass bottles and filling those bottles with a total of around 500 nails.’
With six bottles in a rucksack, three containing caustic soda, three kerosene and another chemical contained in drain cleaner, Reilly took the bus from Plymouth to Exeter and, after a cup of coffee, went into the Giraffe toilets.
‘As he prepared the caustic soda devices in the toilet of the restaurant they began to
explode,’ Mr Justice Calvert-Smith said.
Nicky Reilly (left) as a boy, pictured with his younger brother Luke
‘He was subsequently, as the world knows, arrested and injured himself.’
After the case, Assistant Chief Constable Debbie Simpson of Devon and Cornwall Police said: ‘The incident in Exeter shows that terrorism remains a real and serious threat to all communities across the UK and not just our major cities.’
Incredibly, Reilly’s YouTube page was still online yesterday. It included clips of the September 11 attacks and a video entitled‘How to make a benzine bomb’.