Britain convicts Pakistani man for plotting attacks
Sohail Qureshi was sentenced to 4-1/2 years in jail Tuesday, in the first conviction under a 2006 law that makes it an offense to prepare for a terrorist act.
A British court convicted Tuesday a Pakistan-born dental assistant who planned to fight against US and British troops in Afghanistan, sentencing him to 4-1/2 years in jail. UK security forces arrested Sohail Qureshi in 2006 on the basis of Internet conversations in which he vowed to "kill many" in revenge attacks. Prosecutors said he had boasted of training in Al Qaeda camps in Pakistan in the 1990s and raising money for mujahideen operations in Afghanistan.Skip to next paragraph
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Mr. Qureshi's conviction is the first under the UK's 2006 counterterrorism law that makes it an offense to prepare for an act of terrorism, even if the plans are in a premature stage. He pleaded guilty to the offense and two other charges of possessing illegal materials.
Qureshi's arrest had led to a conviction last year of a British Muslim woman, who worked at London's Heathrow Airport. Samina Malik, who wrote poems praising Osama bin Laden and called herself the "lyrical terrorist," emailed tips to Qureshi about security at the airport.
The Daily Telegraph reports that Qureshi was detained at Heathrow Airport in October 2006 as he prepared to board a flight to Islamabad. Police discovered he was carrying thousands of dollars in cash and a CD-ROM containing snapshots of family life as well as executions and the 9/11 attacks on the US.
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."
Reuters reports a separate online exchange by Qureshi on a militant website in which he described a "two- or three-week operation" that prosecutors said referred to his plans to join the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Prosecutor Jonathan Sharp told London's Old Bailey court that Qureshi also had fighting and first aid manuals, theological notes justifying terrorism, a book he had written called "My Dad the bomb maker" detailing how he had become a militant, and CD-Rom pictures of him brandishing an M16 rifle.
"There were also appalling pictures and videos of mutilated corpses and videos of executions and the 9/11 atrocity," Sharp said. "He was taking it on the trip to keep his mind focused on his terrorist goal."