Muslim convert admits botched attack

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A Muslim convert today admitted launching a failed suicide bomb attack on a busy family restaurant.

Nicky Reilly, 22, pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to attacking the Giraffe restaurant in Exeter.

Reilly, who appeared under the name Mohammad Rashid Saeed Alim, used the internet to research how to make bombs using caustic soda, paraffin and nails.

But when he attempted to assemble one of the soft drink bottle bombs in the toilet cubicle of the restaurant it exploded in his hands.

Reilly, of King Street, Plymouth, was arrested when he staggered outside after suffering serious facial injuries in the blast on May 22.

Counter terrorist police are still hunting for two men who encouraged Reilly via an extremist website, the Old Bailey heard.

Reilly also considered bombing Charles Street Police Station in Plymouth, a shopping centre and the Devonport Dockyard, Mr Justice Calvert-Smith said.

Police recovered pictures of six bombs taken at Reilly's home before he packed them in a rucksack and travelled by bus to Exeter.

Mr Justice Calvert-Smith said Reilly began to plan the attack in early 2008 and researched how to purchase the materials for a suicide vest.

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.

"He bought more than necessary equipment over those months to construct two types of improvised devices, one using caustic soda and the other kerosene.

"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.

"He travelled to Exeter on the morning of May 22, obviously by bus from Plymouth with six bottles, three containing caustic soda, three kerosene and another chemical contained in drain cleaner.

"As he prepared the caustic soda devices in the toilet of the restaurant they began to explode. He was subsequently, as the world knows, arrested and injured himself."

Reilly, who appeared in court via a video link wearing a smart blue shirt and tie, pleaded guilty to preparing a terrorist attack and attempted murder.

He was remanded in custody for sentencing at the Old Bailey on Friday, November 21.

Kerim Fuad, defending, said he wanted to present a statement and a psychiatric report for the court.

He said: "There is much I wish to advance on behalf of this defendant's unusual and complex personal background which led to this ugly and dangerous incident."

Reilly wanted to run into the restaurant holding three bottle bombs to his stomach, but the first one reacted prematurely and he could not get out of the toilet, the court heard.

Prosecutor Stuart Baker said: "His recollection now is that he was unable to open the lock of the cubicle door and come out, by which time the first device had already exploded."

The judge was told Reilly studied a large number of extremist websites and a YouTube video titled: "Home-made bombs."

Mr Calvert-Smith said the defendant "long nursed an ambition" to become a martyr.

He said: "There is evidence from materials seized that he became increasingly drawn to violent action in support of fellow Muslims in revenge for perceived persecution and to the idea of himself personally becoming a martyr."