A former British intelligence official was sentenced to life in prison on Monday for attempting to murder an American NSA employee in the United Kingdom earlier this year.
Joshua Bowles, 29, stabbed and beat the woman on March 9 at a sports center in Cheltenham, southwest England, about 5 kilometers from the headquarters of GCHQ – the British equivalent of the NSA – where the victim was stationed at the time of the attack where Bowles was once worked as a software developer.
Prosecutors said Bowles researched and monitored his victim, who was referred to in court by the code number “99230” because of her work at the NSA. At London’s Old Bailey Court, Judge Cheema-Grubb ruled that Bowles was motivated by terrorism and that his “politically motivated” attack was aimed at disrupting the work of American and British intelligence.
She added that he would have been sentenced to life in prison if his victim had died. Instead, he now faces at least 13 years in prison before he can be released on parole.
Bowles’ lawyers suggested that his motive may have involved an “incel” or “involuntary celibacy” element and that he was not a terrorist The guard. His lawyers said he was romantically rejected by his victim’s predecessor when he worked at GCHQ and that he was searching the internet for misogynistic attacks on the day of his attack.
Tim Forte, defending Bowles, said his client was depressed and had been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Forte added that Bowles felt rejected when 99230’s predecessor rejected his advance and that he “transferred” his infatuation with that woman onto his victim. He also said Bowles was angry about not being promoted. “In this case there is nothing that points to a terrorist cell, it is an instigator,” emphasized Forte.
Bowles reportedly told authorities in a police interview that he selected his target “for her employment with the NSA.” “Due to its size and resources, American intelligence represents the largest contributor within the intelligence community, so it made sense as a symbolic goal,” he added. “I think GCHQ is just as guilty.”
The court was told that during his inquiries into the victim, Bowles learned that she had been playing netball at a sports center around three miles from The Doughnut, the GCHQ headquarters in Cheltenham.
On the night of the attempted murder, Bowles was armed with two knives as he waited in a parking lot outside the sports center. He attacked her as she left the building with a friend around 9:15 p.m. The victim, her friend and a passerby named Alex Fuentes managed to fend off Bowles, allowing the victim to temporarily escape back into the gym. Bowles then chased her inside and continued stabbing her. She was taken to a hospital due to her multiple injuries.
After the attack, Bowles reportedly spoke to a member of the public about his motives while waiting for police to show up, saying he could “deal with the murky waters of ethics and whether they are doing the right thing and have the power to “The American NSA has and what it does.”
“Good thing I didn’t have a gun, right?” He reportedly continued, adding: “What did I do? I tried to kill her. I can’t believe this.” He also said, “I’m a pretty shitty terrorist, aren’t I?”
“This attack had a profound impact on me and completely changed my life,” his victim said in a statement. “Months later, my wounds are still raw. I went from the best shape I’ve ever been to the weakest I’ve ever been.”
Bowles admitted not only to attempted murder, but also to assaulting Fuentes.