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1 YEAR.. FOR PLOT TO KILL OUR BOYS; Outrage as al-Qaeda extremist gets soft sentence.

Byline: By DON MACKAY and JON CLEMENTS, Crime Correspondent

AN al-Qaeda-trained terrorist jailed yesterday after plotting to kill British soldiers could be freed in just ONE year.

Hate-filled fanatic Sohail Qureshi, 29, was arrested as he prepared to leave the UK on a three-week killing spree in Afghanistan or Pakistan.

He had emailed a sympathiser: "Pray that I kill many, brother.

Revenge, revenge, revenge" He was carrying nearly pounds 9,000 plus terror equipment. Searches later uncovered a photo of him in traditional Afghan robes clutching an AK-47 assault rifle.

He was also pictured practising beheading with a machete.

Yesterday, there was fury as the dentist was jailed for four-and-a-half years after admitting preparing for terrorism, which carries a maximum life sentence. If he is of good behaviour, he could be freed in about a year, having served half his term minus the 432 days he was in custody.

Describing the sentence as "very disappointing", an anti-terror source said: "There was a very serious possibility Qureshi would have killed British soldiers.

"He'd been trained by al-Qaeda and knew how to handle firearms." Scotland Yard anti-terror chief Peter Clarke said: "He's a trained terrorist who's had al-Qaeda contacts since the 90s.

"He wanted to carry out terror acts overseas and had the equipment. It's likely coalition forces, possibly in Afghanistan, were his target. He was no amateur and tried to cover his tracks."

Old Bailey Judge Brian Barker said yesterday: "Any form of terrorism is an affront to civilisation." But Qureshi's offences were at the "lower end" of the spectrum.

Qureshi, who changed his plea to guilty at the last minute, showed no emotion as he was sent down.

He is the first person to be convicted of preparing for terror. Crown prosecutors are now likely to demand an appeal seeking a tougher sentence. Qureshi, of Forest Gate, East London, was in email contact with "Lyrical Terrorist" and Heathrow worker Samina Malik to try to investigate airport security.

He was arrested in October 2006 as he prepared to board a flight to Islamabad. He had told friends he was visiting family.

But he said on an extremist web forum: "I'm going on a 14 to 20 day operation. Don't know if it's in Pak, Afg or Waz (the al-Qaeda badlands of Waziristan)." Prosecutor Jonathan Sharp said: "He's a dedicated supporter of Islamic extremism. His true purpose was terrorism."

Qureshi was found with Marine combat manuals, a chapter from his book My Father the Bombmaker, The Mujahideen Poisons Handbook, metal batons and night goggles.

A picture showed him holding an M16 assault rifle. Others showed mutilated corpses and video executions.

Qureshi - who wrote a farewell letter - also had medical supplies, sleeping bags and rucksacks.

The would-be jihadi was born in Pakistan and grew up in Saudi Arabia.

He can speak five languages and boasted on the web that he had been sent to Britain by al-Qaeda for fundraising.

Defence barrister Andrew Hall claimed Qureshi had "exaggerated" his contacts, and said: "There's something of the Walter Mitty in this case."


SICK: His poison manual; GUN: Qureshi poses in robes with AK-47; MACHETE: Aping execution; ARMED: With assault rifle; SECRET: Email from terrorist Malik
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 9, 2008
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