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Last Updated: Friday, 28 March 2008, 15:54 GMT

Terrorism convict released early

Yassin Nassari
Yassin Nassari and his wife were arrested in May 2006

A man convicted of a terrorism offence has been released 17 days early under the scheme to reduce jail overcrowding, the government has confirmed.

Yassin Nassari left Wakefield Prison on 11 February 2008, after being jailed last summer for three and a half years.

He was arrested in May 2006 at Luton Airport carrying what police said were blueprints for a rocket in his luggage.

The Ministry of Justice said Nassari had met the release criteria because he was not guilty of serious violence.

Under the terms of the government's early release scheme, prisoners are eligible to leave prison 18 days earlier than normally expected, if they had been jailed for less than four years and not committed a serious violent offence.

Nassari, 28, from Ealing in west London, was convicted in July 2007 of having articles of use to terrorists.

Scotland Yard detectives had arrested him at Luton Airport after he arrived on a flight from Amsterdam. They found a computer hard-drive in his luggage including documents about martyrdom and weapons training.

They also found a blueprint for a home-made Qassam rocket, used by Palestinian militants to target Israel. Experts told his trial that the blueprint was detailed enough to manufacture a rocket. Detectives also linked Nassari to extremist websites and chatrooms.

Eligible for release

A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice confirmed that a Category A prisoner had been released from Wakefield prison because he met the criteria for early release.

Blueprint for a rocket found in Yassin Nassari's possession
Nassari had blueprints for a home-made steel rocket

Nassari would have been eligible for release 18 days later, having served enough of his sentence to be considered for parole.

"In line with normal practice concerning prisoners released on ECL, the Prison Service made arrangements with the relevant police and probation services to ensure that they were aware of his release," the spokeswoman said.

"This individual is subject to licence conditions and multi-agency public protection arrangements."

The spokeswoman said that early release was not available to people convicted of terrorism offences including serious violence, such as use of explosives to cause grievous bodily harm or conspiracy to hijack.

Tariq al-Daour: Internet contact with Nassari
Nassari used extremist sites
Contacts included Tariq al-Daour (above)
Al-Daour convicted in 2007

She said there were currently no plans to alter the rule to ban the early release of anybody convicted of an offence under terrorism legislation.

However separate prison say terrorism convicts should not be released early on tags or under other home detention and curfew measures. These rules apply to prisoners being released up to four months before the end of their sentence.

At the time of Nassari's conviction, the Metropolitan Police said he had the "ideology, ability and determination" to find and download material which was useful for terrorism.

"He communicated with other like-minded people and shared their interest in gruesome extremist material," said Peter Clarke, the since retired head of Counter Terrorism Command.

"What he intended to do upon his return to the UK is unclear. However, it is possible that his research could have ended up in the hands of individuals or groups willing to put it into practice."

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