A British would-be al-Qaeda terrorist who plotted to carry out a suicide attack at Heathrow airport, targeting passengers returning from Israel and America, has been jailed for 40 years.

Minh Quang Pham, 33, was sentenced in New York for supporting the terrorist organisation al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in 2011.

In January, Pham admitted three counts of terrorist-related activity based on his support for the group, Scotland Yard said, though he denied that he ever intended to carry out his plot or harm anyone. No attack ever occurred.

The former Vietnamese national was first arrested in the UK in June 2012 and was extradited to the US in early 2015.

Scotland Yard said its Counter Terrorism Command provided key evidence that helped shape the case against Pham, also known as Amin, and led to this successful prosecution.

He pleaded guilty to one count of providing material support to AQAP, one count of conspiring to receive military training from AQAP and one count of possessing and using a machine gun in furtherance of crimes of violence.

Prosecutors say Pham was directed by al Qaeda leader Anwar Al-Awlaki to detonate explosives in Heathrow’s arrivals area, to coincide with arrivals from Ben Gurion airport.