Page last updated at 16:34 GMT, Tuesday, 22 April 2008 17:34 UK

Terror jail extension turned down

Sohail Qureshi
Sohail Qureshi was jailed for four and a half years

The Attorney General has lost an appeal to extend the jail term of convicted would-be terrorist Sohail Qureshi.

Qureshi, 30, from Forest Gate, east London, is expected to be freed in about a year after the Court of Appeal refused to increase his sentence.

He was jailed for four and a half years in January after he admitted planning to carry out a terrorist mission.

The Lord Chief Justice said any direct link between Qureshi and actual acts of terrorism was "relatively remote".

Lord Phillips, sitting with Mr Justice Pitchford and Mrs Justice Dobbs, said Qureshi was an educated man who had become "infected with extremist ideology".

He ruled that the existing jail term was "lenient, but not unduly lenient", given that Qureshi's offences were "at the lower end of the scale" of terrorist-related activity.

'Lyrical Terrorist'

Qureshi, a dentist, was arrested at Heathrow Airport in 2006, carrying 9,000 in cash, night vision goggles and military manuals stored on computer discs.

He had been about to board a plane to Pakistan.

Police later searched Qureshi's home and found he was in e-mail contact with Heathrow shop assistant Samina Malik, the self-styled "Lyrical Terrorist".

Malik was given a suspended jail sentence in November 2007 after being convicted of storing a library of material for terrorism.

Andrew Hall QC, representing Qureshi, described him as "something of a Walter Mitty character", who may have been "living in a fantasy world, exaggerating what he was doing and playing a role to impress others".

Lawyers for Attorney General Baroness Scotland QC had argued that Qureshi was "obviously committed to his cause" and was prepared to sacrifice his life, possibly to attack coalition forces overseas.

They argued that he should have been sentenced to between 10 and 16 years in prison.

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