A British Muslim convert described as a “global terrorist” who kept manuals on how to fire mortar bombs and a secret code of terrorism is still too dangerous to be released from prison.
Andrew Rowe, who took the Muslim name Yusef Abdullah, was sentenced to 15 years in September 2005 after being found guilty of possessing items that could be used in terror attacks.
The trial at the Old Bailey was told that Rowe, from West London, had hidden the terrorist paraphernalia in homes associated with him in London and Birmingham.
That sentence was reduced on appeal to 10 years in prison.
Rowe was released from prison in 2010 and made the subject of a 15-year notice.
Andrew Rowe, who took the Muslim name Yusef Abdullah, was sentenced to 15 years in September 2005 after being found guilty of possessing items that could be used in terror attacks
He was told in March 2019 that there is a new obligation to provide details of all vehicles he uses due to a change in the law.
It followed a series of terror attacks using vehicles as weapons in Britain and beyond.
In August 2019, he was employed by Serco to drive garbage trucks, but hid the vehicles he drove from the police, which he was required to report under a terrorism report warrant.
In July 2021, he was given a 10-month prison sentence at the Old Bailey after pleading guilty to nine counts between August 15 and September 27, 2019 of not informing police about the use of four different vehicles after passing his test for heavy vehicles.
Judge Angela Rafferty QC rejected a non-custodial sentence, saying, “You, a terrorist offender, drove a truck in this city without notifying the police.”
She added: “You clearly knew what your notification requirements were, and this was repeated to you. This is a conscious choice not to report.’
In October 2003, Rowe was arrested at the Channel Tunnel (pictured) while traveling back from Europe
Last year, Rowe, now 51, was eligible for his first parole hearing since being recalled. Under terrorism legislation introduced in 2020, his case was referred to the Parole Board for consideration.
The Parole Board rejected his appeal after the three-member panel read his prison record. He did not appear in person or testify to the panel.
Rowe will now have to wait until 2024 to reapply for release from prison.
The 2005 conviction of Rowe, then aged 34, was notable because it came two months after the July 7, 2005 deaths of 56 commuters.
Four coordinated suicide bombings by Islamist terrorists in London targeted commuters traveling on the city’s public transport system during the morning rush hour.
Rowe’s trial resulted in the first terrorist conviction since the subway and bus bombings and prompted calls for tougher sanctions against terrorists by Magistrate Fulford.
Rowe received seven and a half years in prison on the two charges, making a total of 15 years, later reduced to 10 years on appeal.
In summary, Mr Justice Fulford complained that his sentencing powers for dealing with would-be terrorists were too limited.
He said: ‘Ten years is not enough and the courts should have the option of a life sentence. The government should immediately and urgently consider the adequacy of that period.’
Rowe was detained by police on the French side of the Channel Tunnel in 2003 when traces of explosives were found on socks he was carrying.
His homes were raided to find a handwritten guide to firing weapons on the battlefield, a coded sheet, videos of the 9/11 atrocities, and tapes of Osama bin Laden.
He had used the names of specific Nokia mobile phone models to code for words and phrases such as “airline crew,” “explosives,” and “army base.”
Part of the notebook detailing the firing of mortar bombs and a code for terrorism. Andrew Rowe was sentenced to 15 years in September 2005 after being found guilty of possessing items that could be used in terror attacks
Reconstruction of the ‘sock’ device Andrew Rowe planned to detonate in the Channel Tunnel
Rowe is also known to have met terrorism suspect Lionel Dumont, who was convicted in December 2005 of participating in armed robberies in France in 1996. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Dumont, an Islamic convert, fought in Bosnia and was involved in a plot to bomb a meeting of leaders of the Group of Seven Industrial Nations in France in 1996.
He also spent years collecting money for Al Qaeda and organizing cells in Europe and Asia.
Rowe was returning from a meeting with Durmont in Frankfurt when he was stopped by French police.
The court heard that his socks contained traces of TNT, PETN and RDX plastic explosives, and nitroglycerin.
The prosecution claimed they were probably used to clean the barrel of a mortar or as a muzzle guard.
Rowe claimed the socks – which were tied with cord – were used during martial arts training and that the explosive material was picked up during a humanitarian visit to Bosnia in 1995.
The jury was told that Rowe, from Maida Vale, West London, has traveled extensively after converting to Islam, including to conflict zones, and that he had held four passports in seven years.
An August 2003 search of his former flat in west London unearthed a notebook belonging to WH Smith containing 22 pages of handwritten notes on how to aim and fire a mortar.
Officers who raided his estranged wife’s home in Birmingham found the code in a videocassette case.
Other tapes were also found, including one named Jihad in Bosnia, as well as the “living wills” of two 9/11 bombers.
An artist’s impression of Andrew Rowe sitting in the dock at the Old Bailey Central Criminal Court while sentenced to 15 years in prison for planning a terrorist attack in Britain. Friday September 23, 2005
Rowe, a father of four, admitted to writing the secret code but said it was part of a plan to help Muslims in Chechnya.
He said he agreed to become an aid courier after someone asked him at a West London mosque.
Rowe had long been under police surveillance in the UK.
He claimed disability benefits after being injured in a mortar attack in Bosnia and was monitored while withdrawing £7,000 from his bank account at various locations in London.
Rowe told the jury he became a Muslim in the 1990s after a drug-fuelled conversation at a rave and converted at the Central Mosque in London’s Regent’s Park, an event that “gave meaning to my life.”
The jury returned a majority verdict, but could not agree on an indictment related to the socks. The charges were not prosecuted.
Mr Justice Fulford told Rowe: ‘Whatever your terrorist objective was, its achievement was imminent.
“In the post-9/11 world, you don’t need imagination to understand what your contemplation would have been and what your goal would have been.
“You were a paid agent for a considerable period of time, traveling the world and furthering the cause of Muslim fundamentalism.”
Scotland Yard’s head of counter-terrorism, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke, said after the sentencing: ‘Today’s sentencing of Andrew Rowe is important. He is a global terrorist.
“He is trained and knows how to use extreme force. We don’t know when, what or where he would attack, but the public can be reassured that a violent and dangerous man has been brought to justice.”
A spokesman for the Parole Board said: ‘We can confirm that a panel of the Parole Board denied Andrew Rowe’s release following a paperwork review in March 2022.
“Decisions made by the Parole Board focus solely on the risk an inmate may pose to the public if released and whether that risk is manageable in the community.
“A panel will carefully examine a huge range of evidence, including details of the original crime and any evidence of behavior change, as well as the damage done and the impact the crime has had on the victims.
‘Parole reviews are carried out thoroughly and with the utmost care. Protecting the public is our number one priority.”