Ladbroke Grove Mosque
|A British born
"international warrior" who waged terror campaigns across
the globe before being caught at the Channel Tunnel with
explosives on his socks was jailed for 15 years today.
Petty drugs dealer turned Al Qaeda
weapons expert Andrew Rowe, 34, converted to Islam and
became a well reputed jihad fighter with worldwide warzone
contacts including known terrorists, the Old Bailey heard.
After fighting in Bosnia in 1995 he turned his trade to
conflicts in Chechnya and the far east, supporting militant
Islam in its war against its perceived enemies.
Using multiple passports, Rowe travelled to countries including
Afganistan, Pakistan, Georgia, the balkans, Saudi Arabia,
Morrocco, Thailand and Malaysia.
Malaysian security sources believe that Rowe was involved
in a plan to mortar bomb Heathrow airport, which was cordoned
off by the army in February 2003, six months before his arrest.
British police would not confirm the allegation.
Rowe, who used a number of identities including the nom de
guerre "Yusef the Jamaican", is also thought to have been
carrying out recruitment missions for the cause as he travelled
between the warzones.
He was put under police surveillance but left the country
in August 2003. That same month his west London home was searched
and police discovered a notebook in his handwriting giving
detailed instructions on aiming and operating a mortar.
His name was placed on a border control watch list and in
October 2003 he was arrested trying to return to the UK through
the Channel Tunnel. He had been in Frankfurt where he is believed
to have met up with Lionel Dumont - a French terror suspect
who had plotted to bomb the G7 summit in Lyon in 1997.
Dumont was the head of the Roubaix gang, a violent group of
French Algerians who carried out a series of bank raids in
the 1990s for funding. Dumont also fought in Bosnia where
he was sent to prison for 20 years after being convicted of
murdering a policeman. He escaped from prison in 1999 and
When Rowe's luggage was searched on the French side of the
tunnel, police discovered a pair of socks wrapped in a ball
with a 1.5 metre cord attached. The socks had traces of high
explosives on them including TNT, PETN, RDX and nitrogylcerine
- and would have been ideal for cleaning a mortar.
Rowe claimed that the socks had been contaminated with explosives
when he was in Bosnia but denied they were for terrorism,
saying in fact they were a martial arts aid. The jury was
unable to reach a verdict on this count against him.
After his arrest his estranged wife's house in Birmingham
was searched, and hidden in a cupboard police found a list
of codes in Rowe's handwriting. The code enabled sensitive
messages containing words such as
"explosives", "military base" and "airplane crew" to be substituted
for the model numbers of mobile phones.
Other words on the list included "target one", "target two"
and "target three", as well as the ingredients of the home
made explosives recently used in the London terror attacks.
Rowe had made a list of English counties, used for substition
with foreign countries, such as Bosnia and Kent, Poland and
Essex, Hungary and Dorset and Yugoslavia and Derbyshire.
Officers also found a collection of extremist Islam videos,
featuring Osama bin Laden and the recorded wills of the 9/11
bombers. The films urged young Muslims to fight against the
The code, "a shopping list for terrorism", could not have
been written before March 2003 and police believe martial
arts expert Rowe was planning further attacks, although are
unable to specify a target.
He was convicted of two, with the unable to decide
on a count relating to whether or not the socks were for terrorist
purposes. A retrial was not sought on that charge.
Rowe was injured by a mortar shell that same year and spent
months in a field hospital. He then returned to the UK
with his medical notes which listed him under a nickname and
his position as a "freedom fighter".
Over the next eight years Rowe travelled extensively to terrorist
hotspots, at one point being turned away at Gatwick airport
when he was headed for Georgia in possession of $12,000.
During the trial he admitted that he had been planning to
courier explosives to Chechnya and accepted that the code
had been for that purpose - but claimed he had been a freedom
fighter rather than a terrorist.
Police believe that Rowe must have been receiving funding
from a terror support network.
A senior security source said of Rowe: "It seems Rowe is truly
an internationl warrior. Look at his travel patterns over
ten years - he had been travelling the world in pursuit of
"He is not somebody I would characterise as being UK based
with a UK based support network. He is a very well connected
"He is well connected and a committed and dedicated jihadist.
I have no doubt at all he is potentially a very violent man.
I would say he is an important person and he has a degree
of importance because of his reputation - he is well known
in jihadist circles."
Asked if Rowe was linked to Al Qaeda the source replied: "It's
entirely possible - his methodology bears all the hallmarks
of Al Qaeda and the standard operational measures they teach
their people to use."
Although there is nothing to indicate where Rowe was planning
to strike next, the source said: "A lot of the evidence is
historical and painted a picture of a committed jihadist.
The thing which is concerning is that the codes were made
after March 2003 and if you look at the things on it its explosives,
airports, aircrews, etc.
"The only sensible conclusion anyone can draw from this is
this was a means of communicating with other extremists with
a view to committing violent attacks in the future.
"We can't say x or y was going to be a target but it's reasonable
to conclude he was intent on continuing his extremist and
He was found guilty of two charges of having articles for
use in terrorism.
Andrew Rowe, 34, was convicted at the Old Bailey of having
a notebook containing details on how to fire mortar bombs
and a code for terrorism.
The court was also told that socks in his possession had
traces of three explsives.
The prosecution had alleged that the socks, rolled into a
ball and attached to a cord, could have been used as a mortar
bung or to clean a mortar tube.
Rowe told the jury he had used it for a target for martial
arts kicks and that traces of explosives found on the ball
were from his trip to Bosnia in 1995.
The book and code were found at addresses associated with
him in London and Birmingham, the court was told.
Searches of his homes in London and Birmingham revealed a
notebook filled with instructions on how to operate mortar
bombs, and a secret code made up of mobile phone models.
A search of his former flat in west London in August 2003,
resulted in police finding a WH Smith notebook with 22 pages
of hand-written notes on how to aim and fire a mortar.
Following his arrest, the court was told, officers went to
his estranged wife's home in Ash Road, Birmingham, and found
a piece of paper containing the code.
Rowe had travelled extensively after converting to Islam.
He had been to places of conflict and was said to have had
four passports in seven years.
The jury of six men and six women could not agree on a third
charge of having socks, adapted with a cord, for terrorist
The trial was adjourned to this afternoon for the prosecution
to decide if there should be a retrial.