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How Extremists Groomed Loner To Be Suicide Bomber
15 Oct 15, 2008 - 5:29:13 PM
TO THOSE who knew him, he was a "a big friendly giant" or an "oddball recluse".
Nicky Reilly was 6ft 1in and weighed 18 stone but had learning difficulties and a mental age of ten.
The 22-year-old's imposing physique masked more than just a vulnerable mind ripe for exploitation. It harbored a hatred for the West and a desire for martyrdom that drove him to attempt a botched suicide attack.
Yesterday, Reilly, a Muslim convert, pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to attempted murder at the Giraffe restaurant in Exeter on 22 May.
He had been preparing the attack when a bomb went off in his hands in a toilet cubicle.
Yet despite the apparent callousness of his intentions, those involved in prosecuting him say he was a victim himself. With a low IQ and a history of mental problems, including Asperger's syndrome, Reilly was a troubled character who seemed destined to live the rest of his life in his mother's council house in one of the toughest areas of Plymouth .
He would spend hours closeted away, surfing the internet in his darkened bedroom or at a local café. After he strayed on to fundamentalist Islam websites, Muslim extremists saw an opportunity to mould Reilly's pliable mind, rendered obsessive by Asperger's.
Reilly converted to Islam in 2004 and extremists cultivated in him a hatred of the West. Last year he changed his name to Mohammad Abdulaziz Rashid Saeed-Alim.
Neighbors who knew him were quick to label him a "reclusive oddball", who used an image of the 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre in New York as a screensaver.
But the full extent of his manipulators' influence was only revealed when police discovered his suicide note, in which he chillingly paraphrased a comment made by Osama bin Laden in the wake of the 11 September attacks and adopted by many radicals, stating: "We love death as you love life."
It was not just a burning hatred that his religious mentors instilled in Reilly – they also gave him the tools with which to express it. It was also on jihadist websites that he discovered how a highly volatile bomb could be constructed using caustic soda, kerosene and nails.
However, the reason the extremists had chosen Reilly to carry out their attack was the same that led to its failure.
Shortly before 1pm on the day in question, he locked himself in one of the restaurant's toilet cubicles and started to construct the bombs. He intended to run into the dining room with them clasped to his stomach, where they would detonate.
But even if the would-be bomber had the misplaced courage to go through with the plan, he did not have the mental capacity to carry it out.
One of his bombs began to detonate in his hands, spewing burning caustic soda over Reilly, scarring his face and arms.
CCTV images show him stunned and staggering from the restaurant after his plot backfired, to be arrested and taken to hospital.
In hospital, detectives listened as he gave vent to the propaganda that had been instilled in him, outlining his plan and his desire to kill himself and as many other people as possible.
But the simple picture of the hate-filled Islamic terrorist is one that his mother, Kim Reilly, rejected yesterday. She said her son had been an easy target for the online extremists.
It is a view echoed by Deputy Chief Constable Tony Melville, who investigated the plot. "We believe he was preyed upon, radicalized and taken advantage of," he said.
Police hunt YouTube accomplices
POLICE are hunting at least two Islamic extremists who helped Nicky Reilly, a Muslim convert, in his attempted suicide bombing of a restaurant, it emerged last night.
Reilly, who yesterday admitted the attempted bombing of the Giraffe restaurant in Exeter , had also considered bombing a shopping centre, a police station and Devonport Dockyard. Police said Reilly was "tutored" via an extremist website after being contacted through his YouTube webpage.
At the Old Bailey, the judge, Mr Justice Calvert-Smith, said Reilly began to plan the attack in 2008 and researched buying materials for a suicide vest.
"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 judge said.
Reilly, of Plymouth , who appeared in court via a video link, admitted preparing a terrorist attack and attempted murder. He will be sentenced on 21 November.
Source: Scotman ( UK )