A former British Airways worker has been sentenced to prison for 30 years after being found guilty of plotting to destroy a plane in a terrorist attack.

Rajib Karim, 31, worked as a software engineer and passed on sensitive information to the notorious al-Qaeda preacher Anwar al-Awlaki, currently based in Yemen.

Mr Karim, who worked at British Airways' offices in Newcastle upon Tyne, but also had access to the airline's offices at London's Heathrow airport, originally contacted Mr al-Awlaki with his brother, saying they wanted to fight overseas.

However Mr Awlaki told Mr Karim to continue his work at British Airways so that he could help find a way to plant a bomb on an aircraft. Mr Karim also looked at finding ways to crash British Airway's computer systems and so bring mass disruption international air travel.

Mr Karim pleaded guilty to terrorism charges, although in his defence, James Wood QC, said that planning had been at the very early stages and that there was a very good chance that the plot would never amount to anything.

When passing sentence the judge said, "The offences were of the utmost gravity. You are and were a committed jihadist who understood his duty to his religion involves fighting and, God-willing, dying and then being rewarded in the afterlife.

"It is a feature of this case that none of those who worked with you at British Airways had even the slightest notion of what was going on."

Mr Karim's brother, Tehzeeb, was arrested in Yemen but was later released. He is now living in Bangladesh.