A dentist who tried to fly to Pakistan with military equipment and £9,000 cash in his luggage has been jailed for four and a half years for preparing to engage in terrorism.
Sohail Qureshi, 29, pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to charges of preparing to commit terrorist activity and possessing items of use to terrorists, including a night vision scope and medical supplies.
On a computer hard drive police found a library of jihadi literature, including the al-Qaeda training manual and the Mujahidin Poisons Handbook. A CD he was carrying included a picture of him carrying an M16 rifle.
In e-mail traffic retrieved from his computer, Qureshi talked of taking part in a three-week operation - possibly against British troops in Afghanistan. He wrote: "Make dua [pray] that I kill many - revenge, revenge, revenge".
Qureshi was stopped at Heathrow airport in October 2006 as he tried to board a flight to Islamabad where his family lived.
Forensic interrogation of his computer equipment recovered an e-mail exchange with Samina Malik, a shop assistant at Heathrow who wrote jihadi poetry under the pen-name Lyrical Terrorist, in which he inquired about security arrangements at the airport.
Jonathan Sharp, prosecuting, said the pair had been in e-mail contact for around a month.
In one message, Qureshi asked Malik: "Sis, I hope you get this e-mail before anyone else does. What is the situation like at work. is the checking still very harsh or have things cooled down a bit?"
Malik, 23, was convicted last month of possessing terrorist material. She received a nine-month suspended sentence.
Her case had attracted widespread publicity, with commentators and Muslim community leaders protesting that she had been prosecuted for a "thought crime".
But her connection with Qureshi and the evidence of his planned activities could not be publicised at the time because of the danger that it might prejudice his case.
Qureshi, a shaven headed figure with spectacles and a goatee beard, was born in Pakistan but spent most of his childhood in Saudi Arabia. He lived in Russia for seven years where he took a degree in dentistry.
In 2004 he moved to Britain where he found employment as a dental assistant and lived in Forest Gate, east London.
The examination of the hard drive in his luggage and a home computer uncovered a longstanding interest in militant Islam and contact with others who discussed jihad and terrorism.
Among his luggage police found the cash and night vision scope, medical supplies, two extendable metal batons, several mobile phones, two sleeping bags and two rucksacks. He had a library of material downloaded to his hard drive, including US and Canadian military manuals, which referred to guerilla tactics and urban warfare.
In his wallet Qureshi had £1,150 and the rest of his cash was contained in six envelopes which he was carrying in various places on his person.
Further investigation of Qureshi's financial activites revealed that he had been transferring money to people in Peshawar, on the Afghan-Pakistan border, for up to two years before he was detained.
Mr Sharp said: "His true purpose was to commit acts of terrorism or to assist others to do so. Sohail Qureshi is a dedicated supporter of Islamist extremism."
Judge Brian Barker, the Common Serjeant of London, told Qureshi that terrorism was "an affront to civilisation" and the law-abiding public had the right to expect that people convicted of serious offences were jailed. But he said that Qureshi's offences were at the lower end of the scale and the sentence would reflect that.
Qureshi has been in custody since his arrest in October 2006. Taking into account his time served and the normal remission of half his jail term, he will be released in just over a year.
Times Online News Article
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