Counter-terrorism officials said that extremists had taken advantage of his low IQ to groom him
Nicky Reilly, 22, who was charged under the name Mohammed Saeed-Alim, was given two concurrent life sentences with a minimum term of 18 years at the Central Criminal Court in London today, a court official said in a telephone interview. Reilly, from Plymouth, pleaded guilty on Oct. 15 to charges of attempted murder and conduct in preparation for acts of terrorism.
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One of Reilly’s two nail-packed bombs exploded as he attempted to assemble it on May 22 in the restroom of the Giraffe restaurant at the Princesshay shopping mall in Exeter, southwestern England. Reilly, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism, was the only person injured in the explosion.
His actions “could have led to the death and serious injury of many innocent bystanders,” said Debbie Simpson, Assistant Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Police, in a statement posted on the force’s Web Site.
“We accept he has Asperger’s Syndrome, but the judge has said today that he was fully aware of his actions and the consequences of them. His sentence reflects that,” she said.
Sentencing him today at the Old Bailey to life, Mr Justice Calvert-Smith said: “I am quite satisfied that these offences are so serious that only a life sentence is appropriate. This defendant currently represents a significant risk of serious harm to the public.
“The offence of attempted murder is aggravated by the fact that it was long-planned, that it had multiple intended victims and was intended to terrorise the population of this country.
“It was sheer luck or chance that it did not succeed in its objectives.”
Reilly had intended to run out into the packed dining area holding three bottles, filled with caustic soda, kerosene, and nails, to his stomach.
Counter-terrorism officials said that extremists had taken advantage of his low IQ to groom him.
Reilly, who converted to Islam in his mid-teens, is thought to have met British-based Muslim radicals in Internet cafes near his council home in Plymouth, which he shared with his mother.
Security sources said that radicals encouraged him to visit chatrooms and other websites where he encountered the men based in Pakistan, who helped to mould a violent hatred of the West.
Reilly, who appeared in court as Mohamad Abdulaziz Rashid Saeed Alim, set up his own page on YouTube, Chechen 233, where he discussed with the men who his targets should be. They answered his questions and directed him to bomb-making websites.
Officers said the failed attack was a terrifying echo of the tactics of extremists in Iraq who use the mentally or physically disabled to carry out attacks.