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Last Updated: Friday, 23 September 2005, 17:20 GMT 18:20 UK
Terror code man gets 15-year term
Andrew Rowe - pic courtesy of Met Police
Rowe had hand-written instructions on how to fire a mortar
A Briton has been jailed for 15 years at the Old Bailey for possessing items which could be used in terror attacks.

Andrew Rowe, 34, a Muslim convert from west London, had instructions on firing a mortar and a secret terrorism code.

The court heard an al-Qaeda tape was found at his former home, and that he had spent years travelling, "furthering the cause of Muslim fundamentalism".

The judge said Rowe had been on the verge of an act of terror when he was arrested at the Channel Tunnel in 2003.

He was arrested at the French end of the tunnel while returning to the UK from Germany.

Rowe, a father of four from Maida Vale who is estranged from his wife, was jailed for seven and a half years on the two charges, making a total of 15 years.

But the judge, Mr Justice Fulford, said the maximum sentence for having articles for terrorism, 10 years, was "wholly not adequate".

He urged the government to consider introducing discretionary life terms for such offences.

"Whatever your terrorist purpose was, its fulfilment was imminent," the judge told Rowe.

"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."

'Terror shopping list'

The court heard that a pair of socks with traces of explosive on them - rolled into a ball with a cord attached - were found in Rowe's luggage when he was stopped at the tunnel.

The terrorism code - pic courtesy of Met Police
Rowe had a code substituting mobile phone names for words

Rowe said he used the socks for martial arts kicks and that traces of explosives were from when he used them as gloves to unload ammunition, after carrying out humanitarian work in Bosnia in 1995.

But the prosecution claimed they could have been used to clean a mortar.

The jury could not reach a verdict on the socks, and prosecutors decided not to seek a retrial.

Rowe was arrested while travelling from Frankfurt where he had met a man he refused to identify in court.

British police are investigating Rowe's links with a Frenchman called Lionel Dumont who was arrested in Munich last year.

Dumont is known to have been in Bosnia and to have travelled throughout the Far East and is alleged to have been behind bank robberies and plans for terrorist attacks in France.

In searches made after Rowe's arrest, the secret code and hand-written instructions on how to fire a mortar were found at addresses linked to him in London and Birmingham.

The code substituted names of mobile phones for words including money, trouble-police, weapon, airport and army base, prosecutor Mark Ellison said.

There were also codes for explosive materials, making it a "shopping list for terrorism".

Former drug dealer

Mr Ellison also said Rowe had travelled extensively after converting to Islam, including to places of conflict, and had had four passports in seven years.

Rowe told the court he had converted to Islam at the age of 19 in a bid to alter his lifestyle after taking and selling drugs.

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
Peter Clarke
Metropolitan Police

An earlier code-writing charge was dropped by the prosecution during the trial.

The jury was told they could return a majority verdict after a full day's deliberation.

Following the convictions, director of public prosecutions Ken Macdonald QC welcomed the verdict, pointing out that there was no direct link between Rowe and a particular terrorist act.

But "possession of those items together with other supporting evidence was sufficient for a jury to conclude that he had them for the purpose of terrorism", he said.

The head of Scotland Yard's Anti-Terrorist Branch, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke, described Rowe's conviction as 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."

See the journey Andrew Rowe took across Europe

'Explosive' socks shown to jury
09 Sep 05 |  London
Man denies tunnel terror charges
07 May 04 |  England

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