A Muslim terrorist has been jailed for 15 years as a judge called for life sentences for others planning outrages.

Andrew Rowe was caught trying to travel back to Britain through the Channel Tunnel.

He was found to have a rolled up pair of socks with traces of explosives.

Searches of his former home in London produced notes on using mortar bombs.

And the search of his estranged wife's home in Birmingham had revealed a code "chilling in the extreme" with substitutions for such words as airport and target.

Rowe, of Maida Vale, north west London, was found guilty at the Old Bailey of two offences of having articles for use in terrorism.

But the prosecution decided not to seek a retrial when the jury could not agree a verdict on the socks.

Mr Justice Fulford told British-born Muslim convert Rowe, (34), that he believed he was on the verge of an act of terrorism.

"Whatever your terrorist purpose was, its fulfilment was imminent," he said.

"In the post September 11 world, it requires no imagination to understand what would have been in your contemplation and what would have been your purpose."

He told Rowe: "You were a paid operative over a substantial period of time, travelling the world and furthering the cause of Muslim fundamentalism."

Mr Justice Fulford said the maximum sentence for having articles for terrorism was ten years.

He added: "I want to make it abundantly clear that the Government should give immediate and urgent consideration to the adequacy of that term.

"Ten years is wholly not adequate and the courts should have the option of a discretionary life sentence."

He jailed Rowe for seven-and-a-half years on each charge, making a total of 15 years.

He said there would be cases where the circumstances would be graver than that of Rowe, and where the maximum sentence would need to be imposed.

Rowe, the jury was told, bore all the hallmarks of an al Qaida fanatic. Videos found at the address in Ash Road, Birmingham, contained the living wills of two of the September 11 bombers.

An Army expert said the socks, which were rolled into a ball and had a pyjama cord tied to them, could have been used to clean a mortar launcher.

Rowe claimed he had used it for a target for martial arts kicks and that traces of explosives found on the ball were from a trip to Bosnia in 1995, where he fought alongside fellow Muslims in the civil war.

Rowe had played down his Islamic conversion in court and denied he was a engaged in Jihad, or holy war.

But security sources said he was a "committed Jihadi" - Muslim holy warrior - of ten years and said that catching him had foiled acts of terrorism.

Rowe was arrested in October 2003 as he was returning to Britain after meeting a mystery man in a hotel in Frankfurt, Germany.

The man is widely believed to be Lionel Dumont, a French national of Algerian origin, who was later arrested and is to be tried in France for criminal offences.

Unconfirmed reports from the Far East said Rowe and Dumont, who was alleged to be trying to set up a terrorist cell in Japan, had met in Malaysia the previous year.

Reports claimed they were planning to launch a mortar attack on Heathrow Airport in London, but British police were unable to find any evidence about the allegation.

After the verdict, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Ken Macdonald said: "This was the first trial prosecuted by the CPS Counter-Terrorism Division, set up in May, which draws together the skills and knowledge of the CPS's most experienced terrorism lawyers to tackle the changing threat to public safety.

"The challenge we successfully met was to prove to the jury that although there was no direct link between Andrew Rowe and a particular terrorist act, possession of those items together with other supporting evidence was sufficient for a jury to conclude that he had them for the purpose of terrorism."