An al-Qa'eda terrorist who planned to travel from Britain to Afghanistan on a mission of "revenge" has been jailed for four and a half years.
Qureshi was arrested carrying almost £9,000|
Sohail Qureshi, 29, a dental assistant, was stopped at Heathrow airport with military equipment, thousands of pounds in cash and an autobiographical book called "My father the bomb maker."
In internet conversations, Qureshi claimed to have been trained by al-Qa'eda and said he was going to Pakistan, Afghanistan or Waziristan, an area which straddles the borders, for two weeks, adding: "Pray that I kill many, brother. Revenge, revenge, revenge."
Qureshi had been using Samina Malik, a Heathrow sales assistant who dubbed herself the "Lyrical Terrorist", to check the security situation at the airport, the Old Bailey heard.
Qureshi asked her in an email: "Sis, I hope you get this email before anyone else. What is the system like at work? Is the checking still very harsh or have things calmed down a bit?"
She replied using the alias "Umm Musab al-Gharib - A Stranger Awaiting Martyrdom."
Malik, 23, from Southall, West London, was the first Muslim woman to be found guilty of terrorist offences in November last year.
Qureshi, from Forest Gate, East London, is the first person to be convicted under the section five of the Terrorism Act 2006 for the offence of preparing for terrorism.
Qureshi's defence said he was "something of a Walter Mitty character"|
Officers from MI5 and the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command had been watching Qureshi as he prepared to leave the country.
He was arrested at 7.30pm on October 18, 2006 as he prepared to board a flight to Islamabad with a return ticket.
He claimed to be visiting his family for the Muslim festival of Eid but police found he had £1,150 cash in his wallet together with £7,590 stashed in six envelopes around his person and a picture of himself holding an M16 rifle, stored on a CD-Rom.
The CD included snapshots of family and university life along with pictures of mutilated corpses, videos of executions and footage of the 9/11 attacks.
Also among his luggage was £760 of military-style equipment including an optical "night sight", two metal police-style batons, two sleeping bags, two rucksacks, medical supplies and a removable computer hard drive which included a cache of US Marine and Canadian forces combat manuals.
When police searched his home in Forest Gate they discovered a number of photos of him posing with Kalashnikov assault rifles.
They found he had anonymously posted an eight-page "al wida" [farewell] on an Islamic website in which he wrote: "If I am to become a shaheed [martyr], then cry not and celebrate that day as if you celebrate a happy occasion."
In an online conversation with a contact on a site run by at-Tibyan Publications he described how he had trained at an al-Qa'eda training camp in Pakistan in 1996 and was briefly the emir [leader] of another camp in 1998.
He claimed to be a financer and supporter of mujahideen [holy fighters] and talked about the importance of acting alone when doing operations to prevent leaks or moles.
In other internet message logs he talked to the contact about being called "back" to carry out a "14-20 day operation."
He boasted of raising thousands of pounds from sympathisers in Britain which he intended to give to the cause as "bullets cost money" and described the guides, equipment and cash as "gifts" for the fighters he was to meet.
Qureshi was born in Pakistan, the youngest of five children, grew up in Saudi Arabia and lived in Russia for seven years.
He is a qualified dentist and arrived in Britain in 2004 where he worked as a dental assistant in Barking, earning about £1,100 a month.
Sentencing him, Judge Brian Barker QC, the Common Serjeant of London, said: 'These are grave charges. It must be made clear that anyone who takes part in or supports terrorist activities will face a considerable sentence.
'The law-abiding public in this country and abroad expects no less. Any form of terrorism, whatever it is and wherever it is, is an affront to civilisation and can lead to untold grief and destruction."