'Fantasy world'

The dental technician also admitted possessing an article for a terrorist purpose and possessing a record likely to be useful in terrorism.

Jonathan Sharp, the prosecuting lawyer, told the court that Qureshi was a "dedicated supporter of Islamist extremism" who planned to carry out a two- to three-week operation in either Pakistan or neighbouring Afghanistan.

However, Andrew Hall, the defence lawyer, said his client was "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".

The court heard that police intercepted internet messages in which Qureshi wrote: "Pray that I kill many, brother. Revenge, revenge, revenge."

'Terrorist operations'

Qureshi faced a maximum sentence of life in prison, but the judge told him his offences were at the "lower end" of the spectrum.

"You were ready for terrorist operations overseas but there is no specific indication of what they are or where they might be," Brian Barker said.

However, the judge added, "any form of terrorism, wherever it is and whatever it is, is an affront to civilization and can lead to untold grief and destruction".

Prosecutors said Qureshi was in email contact with Samina Malik, a Heathrow airport newsstand worker who described herself as the "Lyrical Terrorist" and wrote verses praising violent jihad.

She was given a nine-month jail sentence last month for possessing records likely to be useful for terrorism.