2008 Exeter attempted bombing

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22 May 2008 attempted Exeter bombing
Princesshay explosion.jpg
A police van guards the Giraffe cafe and restaurant.
Location Exeter, Devon, England, UK
Coordinates 50°43′29″N 3°31′36″W / 50.7248°N 3.5267°W / 50.7248; -3.5267Coordinates: 50°43′29″N 3°31′36″W / 50.7248°N 3.5267°W / 50.7248; -3.5267
Date 22 May 2008
12:50 (UTC+1)
Target Princesshay
Deaths 0
Non-fatal injuries
1 (the bomber)
Perpetrator Nicky Reilly

The Exeter bombing was a failed attack which happened on 22 May 2008, at the Giraffe cafe and restaurant in Princesshay, Exeter, United Kingdom. Nicky Reilly, 22, a Muslim convert from Plymouth, pleaded guilty to launching a failed suicide attack on 15 October. The bomber was the only person injured.[1]

Attack[edit]

The attack took place at 12:50 while the bomber was in a locked cubicle of the restaurant toilets. Witnesses in and around the restaurant report hearing a loud bang. Most dismissed it, thinking the sound had come from a nearby building site. Another witness reported that it "sounded more like gunshots than a bomb, like a lightbulb exploding".[1] Police were immediately called to the scene and the restaurant was evacuated.

Evacuation[edit]

Thousands were evacuated from the city centre.

After the restaurant was evacuated, police evacuated and cordoned off the immediate area in fear of another device. This cordon was originally confined to the Princesshay area, but was later extended to cover the whole of the city centre, from the bottom of High Street to Sidwell Street. Another device was found in the vicinity of the cafe, but was disabled by a bomb disposal team.[2]

Timeline[edit]

Thursday 22 May 2008[edit]

A map showing the location of the bomb and road closures
  • 10.20 am Nicky Reilly boards a double-decker Stagecoach bus number X38 in Bretonside bus station in Plymouth bound for Paris Street, Exeter.[3]
  • 12.05 pm Reilly arrives in Exeter.[3]
  • 12.50 pm Police and ambulance services receive calls from members of the public reporting that a man has been injured in an explosion at the Giraffe cafe and restaurant in Princesshay.
  • 1pm A 100 m cordon is established and police begin to evacuate the area.
  • 1.40 pm Police confirm it is believed an explosion has occurred.
  • 2.20 pm Bomb disposal officers arrive at the scene with sniffer dogs.
  • 3pm The city centre, including Princesshay, the High Street, Paris Street and part of Sidwell Street, is cordoned off and evacuated by police.
  • 3.25 pm Police confirm that a man is in custody following the explosion.
  • 4.15 pm Bomb disposal experts prepare to enter the Giraffe restaurant. Police reveal they have been called to three other reports of suspicious devices in the city centre – at Primark, McDonald's and on a bicycle – but all have been found to be false alarms.
  • 5.15 pm Forensic officers begin to examine the Giraffe restaurant after bomb disposal experts declare the scene safe.
  • 6.50 pm Police reveal two devices have been found, one of which exploded and another that was made safe.
  • 7pm A phased lifting of the cordons begins and workers are allowed to return to shops and offices within the exclusion zone to collect their belongings, six hours after they were evacuated. Motorists are also able to retrieve their cars from the car parks in Princesshay and Southernhay.

Friday 23 May[edit]

  • 12:00 pm Police and business leaders hold a press conference regarding the previous days events.[2]
  • 12:47 The police reveal CCTV images of Reilly and appeal for witnesses on the X38 bus from Plymouth Bretonside to Paris Street bus station, Exeter.[2]
  • ~1:00 pm A bomb disposal team arrive at Reilly's home in Plymouth as police investigate his flat.[4]
  • ~14:00 Part of Plymouth is sealed off after a suspect package is found. It is later found not to be a threat.[5]
  • ~15:00 Armed police target two men who are drinking at the Bagatelle cafe in Plymouth city centre. One is arrested and the other is said to be helping police.[4][5]

Saturday 24 May[edit]

  • ~11:00 Businesses in both cities reveal that custom is back to normal.[6]

Monday 26 May[edit]

  • ~14:00 – Nicky Reilly is discharged from hospital and into police custody.[7][8]

Wednesday 15 October[edit]

Reilly pleaded guilty to launching a failed suicide bid at the Giraffe restaurant in Exeter. Information released after his guilty plea revealed that Reilly was obsessed with martyrdom and wanted to cause as much death and injury as possible.[9]

Friday 30 January 2009[edit]

Aftermath[edit]

The large cordon set up around the bomb site caused considerable disruption. Not only were shops along the High Street shut, but the city's main bus operator Stagecoach Devon had to re-route their buses causing traffic delays. The city's bus station was also evacuated.[11] Many hours after the attack, resulted in the evening of 22 May when the cordon, which had stretched to include Exeter bus station, being reduced and many roads surrounding the shopping centre re-opened.[11] On the Friday, all shops – except the restaurant involved, were re-opened as usual.[12] The incident is estimated to have cost the local economy approximately £2.5 million.[13]

Investigations[edit]

A team of about twenty specialists (including forensic officers, intelligence experts and detectives) from Scotland Yard's Counter Terrorism branch SO15, was brought in to help the Devon and Cornwall Police constabulary with their investigations.[3] Soon after the arrest police began searching at the Muslim Community Centre in St Jude's, Plymouth.[14]

Arrests[edit]

The armed arrest in Plymouth

Since the explosion in Exeter a total of four arrests have been made in connection with the incident. Under the Terrorism Act 2006 a person arrested for terrorism offences can be detained in Police custody for 28 days without being charged.[15]

Mohamed Abdulaziz Rashid Saeed-Alim (Nicky Reilly)[edit]

Nicky Raymond Reilly (now known as Mohamed Abdulaziz Rashid Saeed-Alim), aged 22, was born in Plymouth, where he lived with his mother, Kim. He had previously been detained in a mental health hospital.[16] Since his conversion to Islam and changing his name,[3] he came under the influence of religious extremists,[17] who reportedly radicalised him into detonating a bomb in Exeter.[3][18]

On 3 June 2008, he was charged with three offences, one under the Terrorism Act 2006 and a further two under the Explosive Substances Act 1883. He appeared before magistrates in a secure court in Westminster, London on 4 June 2008, and was remanded in custody.[19]

Other arrests[edit]

On Friday 23 May 2008, there was an evacuation of Plymouth city centre in which armed police arrested another person. A second individual was detained and is helping police with their enquiries, but is no longer in police custody.[5][20] At 17:30 on 28 May 2008 a fourth man was detained for questioning.[14]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Man held after city centre blast". BBC News. 22 May 2008. Archived from the original on 26 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-25. 
  2. ^ a b c "Explosion update: Forensic team study two devices". Express & Echo. 23 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-25. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Exeter bomb loaded with chemicals". BBC News. 23 May 2008. Archived from the original on 26 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-26. 
  4. ^ a b "Pair still questioned over blast". BBC News. 24 May 2008. Archived from the original on 26 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-26. 
  5. ^ a b c "Area of city sealed off in bomb investigation". The Herald. 23 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-26. 
  6. ^ "Back in business after one terrible day". Express & Echo. 24 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-26. 
  7. ^ "Exeter blast suspect in custody". BBC News. 26 May 2008. Archived from the original on 27 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-26. 
  8. ^ "2PM update: Reilly out of hospital". Express & Echo. 26 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-26. 
  9. ^ "Man admits restaurant bomb attack". BBC News. 15 October 2008. Archived from the original on 16 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-16. 
  10. ^ "Nail-bomber given life sentence" (BBC News)
  11. ^ a b "3pm update: Bus station evacuated as cordon enlarged". Express & Echo. 22 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-26. 
  12. ^ "It's business as usual after city bomb explosion". Express & Echo. 24 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-26. 
  13. ^ "Explosion update: Cost to business estimated at £2.5M". Express & Echo. 23 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-26. 
  14. ^ a b "Third man quizzed over explosion". BBC News. 28 May 2008. Archived from the original on 29 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-29. 
  15. ^ "Terrorism Act 2006". Home Office. Archived from the original on 11 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-29. 
  16. ^ Leppard, David; Taher, Abul (25 May 2008). "MI5 fears jihadis will use mentally ill as suicide bombers". The Times (London). Retrieved 2008-05-26. 
  17. ^ "Bomber Nicky Reilly was brainwashed online by Pakistani extremists"
  18. ^ "Blast suspect was 'radicalised'". BBC News. 23 May 2008. Archived from the original on 26 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-25. 
  19. ^ "Man charged over Exeter explosion". BBC News. 3 June 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-03. 
  20. ^ "Two quizzed over restaurant blast". BBC News. 23 May 2008. Archived from the original on 26 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-25.