White Muslim convert bomb suspect named
The white Muslim convert arrested after a bomb was detonated in a restaurant in Exeter has been named as 22-year-old Nicky Reilly.
Mr Reilly had a history of mental illness and had been "preyed upon" by "radical" Muslims in the area, police officers said.
They have established that he travelled between Plymouth and Exeter by bus before the explosion at the Giraffe restaurant at the Princesshay shopping centre at 12.50pm.
Two bombs were found and Reilly was the only person injured. He suffered "serious facial injuries" although they were not said to be life-threatening.
He was later arrested before armed police searched an address in King Street, Plymouth, which is linked to Reilly.
The premises was still being searched at 9.40pm.
Deputy Chief Constable Tony Melville last night launched a plea for information on Mr Reilly's movements and took the unusual step of releasing a picture to assist the investigation.
He said: "Our investigation so far indicates Reilly, who has a history of mental illnesss had adopted the Islamic faith.
"We believe despite his weak and vulnerable illness he was preyed upon, radicalised, and taken advantage of.
"Bomb disposal experts attended the scene and made safe two explosive devices. These are being forensically examined."
Reilly was last night under police guard and thought to be undergoing treatment at the Royal Devon and Exeter hospital.
Last night neighbours of Mr Reilly said that he changed his name last year through deed poll to Mohammed Rasheed and described him as “naive and easily led”.
Daniel Turner, 20, a neighbour, said that Mr Reilly’s nickname is the “Big Friendly Giant” but that he had been “brainwashed”.
Mr Turner said: “He is mentally ill and he probably has the mental age of a 10-year-old.
“He changed his name to Mohammed Rasheed about a year ago at a registry office.
“He was brainwashed into becoming a Muslim by local men. He can’t think for himself.
“Nicky is schizophrenic. We call him the BFG but he obviously met up with the wrong people.”
Mr Reilly lives with his mother Kim and has two brothers Luke, 20, and Elliott, 10.
Bradley Kinsman, 22, a friend of the Reilly family, said: “Nicky used to come out and play with us but in the last year he has been really antisocial.
“He is a very lonely guy and that is because of his mental illness. He has a big lurcher dog called Gypsy who he adores.
“Someone has seen he is vulnerable and naive and have ordered him to do these things.
“There is no way he would be capable of doing something like that by himself.
“Sometimes we walk underneath his window and we can hear the sound of him praying. He hasn’t really spoken to us in two years.”
Nicky lives in a large block of flats in a poor area near the centre of Plymouth.
Bradley added: “His mum is a really nice woman. I feel so sorry for her. I don’t think she even knew it had come this far.
“No-one around here did. Sometimes people from the Muslim community would knock at his door but his mum wouldn’t let them in.”
Nicky Reilly’s brother Luke, 20, was jailed for six years in February after pleading guilty to beating Polish kitchen worker Wojciech Giedzilin unconscious in a “brutal and sustained attack”.
During his hearing at Plymouth Crown Court Reilly’s defence lawyer said he was of “limited intelligence,” and had a troubled upbringing.
The court also heard that he had a cannabis habit and would regularly steal to fund it.
LONDON: Anti-terrorist police on Friday searched an apartment in southwest England to try to determine what motivated a young Muslim convert with a history of mental illness to walk into a busy restaurant with two bombs.
Suspected bomber Nicky Reilly was the only person injured in the blast, but experts and authorities fear he represents a worrying trend: vulnerable and isolated individuals radicalized through the Internet and exploited by militants.
Police forensic teams removed bags full of evidence from the second-floor apartment in Plymouth where Reilly lived with his mother and younger brother. A military bomb-disposal team arrived at the scene as the search continued.
Reilly, 22, was in a hospital under armed guard and being treated for facial injuries after a device he was carrying blew up Thursday in a bathroom at Giraffe, a popular family restaurant in Exeter, 180 miles (290 kilometers) southwest of London and about 40 miles (60 kilometers) from his home. Another explosive device was found nearby and disarmed by bomb-disposal experts.
Police would not confirm reports that the devices were made from a mixture of chemicals and nails.
Police late Thursday took the unusual step of naming Reilly, who has not been charged, and releasing a photograph of the stocky, 6-foot-1 (185 centimeters) young man. Devon and Cornwall Police said Reilly had been manipulated, and appealed for help tracking his movements.
"Our investigation so far indicates that Reilly, who has a history of mental illness, has adopted the Islamic faith," Deputy Chief Constable Tony Melville told reporters.
"We believe that despite his weak and vulnerable state, he was preyed upon, radicalized and taken advantage of."
Police said the incident did not appear to be part of a wider plot, although they cautioned that the investigation was ongoing.
London police said they had sent a team of counterterrorism officers to provide support for the investigation. The British Broadcasting Corp. reported that the country's domestic intelligence service, MI5, was also on the case.
Neighbors on the Plymouth public housing estate described Reilly as a quiet, isolated man who spent much of his time indoors, and a local Muslim leader said he did not know the suspect.
Scott Allen, 19, who lives in the apartment below Reilly's in Plymouth, said the young man appeared introverted and rarely spoke.
"I would say they picked on him because of his vulnerability,
Another neighbor, 17-year-old Ali Turner, said Reilly's computer screen saver was an image of the burning World Trade Center in New York. Turner said Reilly has recently changed his name to Mohammed Rasheed, "but English people were still allowed to call him Nicky."
Syed Lutfur Rahman, chairman of Plymouth's Islamic Center, said police had called him to offer protection for the center in case of a backlash against local Muslims. They also asked him if he knew Reilly.
"I said I didn't know him. I don't know if he's been to the center," Rahman said. "But I don't recognize him."
Terrorism-related arrests have become frequent in Britain since the Sept. 11 attacks and the July 2005 suicide bombings that killed 52 commuters in London. Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said last month that authorities were monitoring 2,000 suspects and 30 active plots.
But Exeter seems an unlikely target. It is a city of about 120,000 people in Devon, a county best known for beaches, beautiful countryside and clotted cream.
The largely rural southwest is one of England's quietest corners, although animal-rights militants have detonated a series of small bombs in the region over the last quarter century.
On Friday, a 19-year-old Muslim convert from Bristol, also in southwest England, appeared at London's Central Criminal Court, charged with intending to commit a terrorist act using an improvised explosive device.
Police say Andrew Philip Michael Ibrahim, arrested last month, was found with a peroxide-based explosive, along with ball bearings, air gun pellets, nails, screws, circuitry, batteries and electric bulb filaments. He is due to stand trial in January.
Both Ibrahim and Reilly appeared to have been radicalized very quickly, said Garry Hindle, a terrorism expert at the Royal United Services Institute, a military think tank.
"The rapid radicalization is something of concern, the speed with which people can be converted to violent acts," Hindle said. "Police have pointed to this being something that can happen in a matter of weeks.
"It points to the fear that there is a lot of use of the Internet — people can almost become self-radicalized,