Muslim convert 'intended to martyr' himself

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The Independent Online

Stunned detectives listened in horror as a Muslim convert told them he wanted to kill himself and as many others as possible in a suicide attack.

Speaking from his hospital bed just hours after a botched bombing, 22-year-old Nicky Reilly wasted no time outlining his murderous intentions.

Reilly suffered burns to his face and arms when his volatile home-made liquid bomb exploded in his hands in a restaurant toilet cubicle.

Dozens of customers sitting just yards away at the trendy Giraffe cafe escaped without injury.

Reilly was captured on one CCTV camera staggering out of the restaurant in Exeter's £230 million Princesshay shopping complex.

The vulnerable loner's actions brought the terror of the July 2005 London transport bombings to a West Country city.

One senior prosecutor said Reilly, who has a low IQ and history of mental illness, wasted no time telling police what he had done and why.

He said: "He told police he intended to martyr himself and to kill others in the restaurant.

"In his words, this was in retaliation for the oppression of Muslims around the world and in relation to world events of recent years.

"His initial explanation was given in a slightly disjointed way as he was left in shock by the premature explosion."

Detectives believe easily-led Reilly was put on the path to murder by extremists he met near his home in King Street, Plymouth.

But he found details of how to construct his soft drink caustic soda, paraffin and nail bottle bombs on the internet.

On May 22, Reilly took the X38 bus from Plymouth to Exeter carrying several unassembled devices in a rucksack.

Shortly before 1pm, as he attempted to put the bombs together, one of the volatile bottles reacted prematurely and partially exploded.

Reilly was arrested outside as Royal Navy bomb disposal experts were brought in to examine the unexploded devices.

The shopping centre and a number of nearby offices were evacuated for several hours while a massive police operation took place.

In the aftermath of the attack, one senior police officer said the devices could have been powerful enough to blow out the building's glass frontage.

When detectives raided Reilly's home they discovered a suicide note quoting Osama bin Laden and calling on Britain to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Sources said counter-terrorist police were aware of Reilly and suspected he had loose links to known Islamic extremists.

Deputy Chief Constable Tony Melville took the unusual step of announcing that Reilly was preyed upon by extremists.

It emerged that Reilly adopted Islam five years ago and changed his name to Mohammad Rashid Saeed-Alim in 2007.