A British Muslim convert described as a ‘global terrorist’ who kept handbooks on how to fire mortar bombs and a secret terrorism code is still too dangerous to be released from jail, a parole board has decided.
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 the terrorist paraphernalia hidden at homes linked to him in London and Birmingham.
That sentence was reduced on appeal to 10 years in prison.
Rowe was released from jail in 2010 and made the subject of a 15-year notification order.
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 of a new obligation to give details of all vehicles used by him following a change in legislation.
It followed a series of terror attacks involving the use of vehicles as weapons in Britain and abroad.
In August 2019, he was employed by Serco to drive bin lorries, but concealed the vehicles he was driving from the police, which he had an obligation to report under a terrorist notification order.
In July 2021, he was handed a 10-month sentence at the Old Bailey after pleading guilty to failing to notify police about the use of four different vehicles on nine occasions between August 15 and September 27, 2019 after passing his heavy good vehicle test.
Rejecting a non-custodial sentence, Judge Angela Rafferty QC said: ‘You, a terrorist offender, drove a heavy goods vehicle in this city without notifying the police you were doing so.’
She added: ‘You clearly knew what your notification requirements were, and this had been reiterated to you. This was a deliberate decision not to notify.’
In October 2003, Rowe was arrested at the Channel Tunnel (pictured) as he travelled back from Europe
Last year, Rowe, now 51, became 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-person panel read his prison dossier. He did not personally appear or give evidence to the panel.
Rowe will now have to wait until 2024 to apply again to be released from prison.
The 2005 conviction of Rowe, then aged 34, was noteworthy because it came two months after the deaths of 56 commuters on July 7, 2005.
Four coordinated suicide attacks carried out by Islamic terrorists in London targeted commuters travelling on the city’s public transport system during the morning rush hour.
The trial of Rowe resulted in the first terrorist conviction since the tube and bus bombings and led to calls for tougher sanctions against terrorists by trial judge Mr Justice Fulford.
Rowe was jailed for seven and a half years on the two charges, making a total of 15 years, later reduced to 10 years on appeal.
Summing up, Mr Justice Fulford complained that his sentencing powers for dealing with potential terrorists were too limited.
He said: ‘Ten years is not adequate and the courts should have the option of a discretionary life sentence. The government should give immediate and urgent consideration to the adequacy of that term.’
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.
Raids on his homes uncovered a handwritten guide to firing battlefield weapons, a coded sheet, videos of the 9/11 atrocities and tapes of Osama bin Laden.
He had used the names of specific models of Nokia mobile phones as code for words and phrases such as ‘airline crew’ ‘explosives’ and ‘army base’.
A section of the notebook containing details on how to fire 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 showing the ‘sock’ device Andrew Rowe planned to detonate in the Channel Tunnel
Rowe was 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 gathering of leaders of the Group of Seven industrial nations in France in 1996.
He also spent years raising money for Al Qaeda and organising cells in Europe and Asia.
Rowe was returning from meeting Durmont in Frankfurt when he was stopped by French police.
The court heard his socks carried traces of TNT, plastic explosives PETN and RDX and nitro-glycerine.
The prosecution claimed they were probably used to clean the barrel of a mortar or as a muzzle protector.
Rowe claimed the socks – which were bound 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, of Maida Vale, west London, travelled extensively after converting to Islam, including to places of conflict, and had gained four passports in seven years.
A search of his former flat in west London in August 2003 unearthed a WH Smith notebook with 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 video cassette case.
Other tapes, including one called Jihad In Bosnia, were also found, as were the ‘living wills’ of two 9/11 bombers.
An artists impession of Andrew Rowe sitting in the dock at the Old Bailey Central Criminal Court, as he was sentanced to 15 years imprisonment for planning a terrorist attack in Britain on September 23, 2005
Rowe, a father of four, admitted writing the secret code but said it was part of a plan to help Muslims in Chechnya.
He said he agreed to be an aid ‘courier’ after being asked by someone at a mosque in west London.
Rowe had long been under police scrutiny in the UK.
He claimed invalidity benefit after being injured by a mortar attack in Bosnia and was monitored 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 Regent’s Park, London, an event which ‘put meaning into my life’.
The jury returned majority verdicts but could not agree on a charge relating to the socks. The charge was not pursued.
Mr Justice Fulford told Rowe: ‘Whatever your terrorist purpose was, its fulfilment was imminent.
‘In the post 9/11 world, it requires no imagination to understand what would have been in your contemplation and what would have been your purpose.
‘You were a paid operative over a substantial period of time, travelling the world and furthering the cause of Muslim fundamentalism.’
The head of Scotland Yard’s anti-terrorist branch, deputy assistant commissioner Peter Clarke, said after the conviction: ‘Today’s conviction of Andrew Rowe is important. He is a global terrorist.
‘He has been trained and knows how to use extreme violence. We do not know when, what or where he was going to attack, but the public can be reassured that a violent and dangerous man has been brought to justice.’
A spokesperson for the Parole Board said: ‘We can confirm that a panel of the Parole Board refused the release of Andrew Rowe following a paper review in March 2022.
‘Parole Board decisions are solely focused on what risk a prisoner could represent 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 behaviour change, as well as explore the harm done and impact the crime has had on the victims.
‘Parole reviews are undertaken thoroughly and with extreme care. Protecting the public is our number one priority.’