At FAST we are saddened to hear of the recent death of Nicky Reilly, who committed suicide in his prison cell, seven years into a life sentence for attempted murder.
This is the final chapter of a sad and chilling story of a man who was rapidly radicalised by terrorists into becoming someone capable of mass murder.
As we have described previously, in 2008, he tried to blow up families eating lunch at a restaurant in Exeter. Thankfully, none of the diners were harmed. Reilly accidentally detonated his homemade explosive device in the toilets of the venue and sustained minor injuries to only himself.
Reporting for the BBC about Reilly’s death, Simon Hall recalled that Reilly’s mother had described her son as “vulnerable and preyed on by extremists, who used him by pretending to be his friends.”
Evidently, Reilly had been transformed into a potential killer. But he hadn’t always been one. He was a vulnerable person with Aspergers who was struggling to come to terms with rejection by his first girlfriend. He was just the kind of confused, depressed young person that terrorists latch onto and recruit.
His mother said he’d been a peaceful follower of Islam for six years, and people who remember him have described how they used to affectionately call him the BFG – the Big Friendly Giant of the Roald Dahl stories. The changes in an individual who is being radicalised can happen alarmingly quickly and for Reilly, once the terrorists found him, it was only a matter of weeks.
Nicky Reilly thought he’d found new friends. What he had really found was people who wanted to exploit him. The loss of Reilly’s life is a devastating example of the lure of Daesh. Our thoughts are with his family at this time.
Visit our website to find out more about the possible signs of radicalisation and please do get in touch if you are concerned about a loved one.