Attack at Jewish-owned restaurant raises concern

'Giraffe' franchise bombed last week by recent convert to Islam.

British police 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
British police 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
A Jewish community organization has notified police that the Southeast England restaurant targeted in a bomb attack last Thursday was Jewish-owned, The Jerusalem Post has learned. Mark Gardner, director of communications at the Community Security Trust, a charity that provides security for British Jews and represents the community to police, government and media on anti-Semitism and security issues, told the Post they had informed the Metropolitan Police that Giraffe, which has 25 restaurants around the UK, is owned by Jewish partners. "We have made Scotland Yard aware that the restaurant is Jewish-owned," he said. "We can only await further developments, but at this stage there is no reason to believe it is connected." A Devon and Cornwall Police spokesman declined to comment while the investigation was pending. A Scotland Yard spokesman told the Post its agents were only assisting the investigation and it was not their jurisdiction to comment. Police said the bomb contained a lethal mix of nails and chemicals, including sodium hydroxide and paraffin, that could have caused a fireball had it ignited fully. On Thursday, 22-year-old Nicky Reilly, a recent convert to Islam who police said had a history of mental illness, was wounded when a bomb went off in the Giraffe restaurant at a shopping center in Exeter, Devon. CCTV footage showed Reilly emerging from the café with blood pouring down his face. Police said he suffered serious, but not life-threatening, wounds. Police said Sunday he was in stable condition. Reilly was arrested after the incident and is currently under guard in a hospital, where he is being treated for severe facial lacerations. Police are waiting to question him. No one else was wounded in the explosion at the restaurant, which was busy at the time. Another device, which did not go off, was found outside the restaurant and defused by sappers. On Friday evening, police detained two men linked to the incident in an operation in Plymouth, 75 kilometers west of Exeter. Police are still questioning them. A text message Reilly received before traveling to Exeter is said to be significant to the investigation, and police have said they have CCTV footage showing Reilly boarding a bus to Exeter carrying a rucksack. "Our investigation so far indicates Reilly, who had a history of mental illness, had adopted the Islamic faith," Devon and Cornwall Police deputy chief constable Tony Melville said in a statement. "We believe, despite his weak and vulnerable illness, he was preyed upon, radicalized and taken advantage of." Reilly was reportedly known to police, who were concerned he had formed links to known extremists in southwest England. "We do not have and have never supported or condoned any radical or extremist behavior," Sayed Rahman, from the Plymouth Islamic Center, where Reilly once worshipped, told the BBC. "This Islamic center is only used for communal prayers."