Nicky Reilly, 22, pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to attempted murder at Exeter's Giraffe restaurant on 22 May. Reilly, from Plymouth, had been preparing the attack when a bomb went off in his hands in a toilet cubicle. Nicky Reilly was known to friends and neighbours in the inner city area of Plymouth as the "Big Friendly Giant".
Police believe Reilly, said to have learning difficulties, was "preyed upon and radicalised by others". He will be sentenced on 21 November.
The court heard counter-terrorism police were still hunting for two unidentified people who encouraged Reilly after contacting him via an extremist website.
'Martyrdom ambition' The judge, Mr Justice Calvert-Smith, said: "There is evidence from materials seized that he became increasingly drawn to violent action in support of fellow Muslims in revenge for perceived persecution, and to the idea of himself personally becoming a martyr.
"He told the police that he had long nursed an ambition to become a martyr."
The judge said Reilly, who appeared in court under the name Mohammad Rashid Saeed-Alim, had also considered targeting a Plymouth police station and Devonport dockyard.
Reilly's mother Kim said he was an "easy target, easy prey" for radicalisation.
She said he would have had instructions or guidance from someone, as he was thought to have a mental age of 10 and suffered from mental illness.
"He was fascinated by the attack on the Twin Towers as he saw England and America as satanic. "He would watch beheadings on the internet and believed in honour killing. It was deeply disturbing. He worshipped at the Islamic Centre in Greenbank Avenue a mile from his home and grew a beard, although he had been clean-shaven in the months before the attack. "He was on his computer all the time.
Very Possible links to the www.al-elkhaas.net jihad network here that has been shut down, see my prior post of Saturday, October 11, 2008, AL-QAEDA'S NETWORK OF TERROR WEBSITES, AL-ELKHAAS FORUM AND 2 OTHERS, HAVE BEEN SHUT DOWN, AL-FAJR MEDIA CENTER HAS POSTED NOTICE !
I know he was into Muslim stuff because he changed his wallpaper on his computer to a picture of the Twin Towers. "He was on his computer non-stop - he never really went out. He once said he goes to 'secret meetings' when no one is allowed if they are not a Muslim."
Detectives believe Reilly was groomed by extremists he met near his home in King Street, Plymouth. Deputy Chief Constable Tony Melville said: "He was preyed upon, radicalised, and taken advantage of."
"There was some debate, which is revealed by comments on the computer, about what sort of person should be targeted in due course, whether public servants, such as police officers, or other public servants or ordinary citizens," he said.
In pictures: Exeter bomber; "In the end the decision was made to target ordinary citizens in a restaurant." The court heard Reilly made the bombs in glass bottles, one using caustic soda and the other kerosene, which he then filled with about 500 nails.
He travelled to Exeter by bus on the morning of 22 May with six bottles, three of which contained caustic soda, and three kerosene and another chemical contained in drain cleaner, the judge said.
"As he prepared the caustic soda devices in the toilet of the restaurant, they began to explode. He was subsequently, as the world knows, arrested and injured himself." Reilly had planned to run into the restaurant holding three bombs to his stomach, but the first one reacted prematurely and he could not get out, the court heard. Prosecutor Stuart Baker said: "His recollection now is that he was unable to open the lock of the cubicle door and come out, by which time the first device had already exploded."