An Islamic State (ISIS) supporter, who had pleaded guilty to a string of terror charges including a plot to attack Britain’s Prince George at his London school, was on Friday sentenced to life with a minimum term of 25 years behind bars.
Husnain Rashid, who was on trial on the terror charges at Woolwich Crown Court in London in May, had brought an end to the proceedings with a change in his plea from not guilty to guilty.
Judge Andrew Lees said the 32-year-old made it clear the prince, the first-born son of Prince William and Kate Middleton, and other members of the royal family “should be viewed as potential targets”.
“The message was clear, you were providing the name and address of Prince George’s school, an image of Prince George’s school and the instruction or threat that Prince George and other members of the Royal family should be viewed as potential targets,” the Judge said during sentencing.
“You provided what you regarded as inspiration for suitable targets for lone wolf terror attacks,” he said.
“Attacks in Western countries were in your eyes the only suitable acceptable alternative to jihad itself,” he added.
In October last year, Rashid had posted a photograph on the encrypted Telegram social media forum of Thomas’s School in Battersea, south-west London, where the four-year-old son of Prince William and Kate studies.
The image was superimposed with silhouettes of two masked extremist fighters with a follow-up message listing the full address of the school along with the message: “Even the royal family will not be left alone. School starts early.”
Prosecutors told the court that Rashid had also encouraged followers to poison ice cream and attack football stadiums and was even planning his own online magazine offering tips for “lone-wolf attacks”.
The unemployed web designer was in contact with an ISIS operative in Syria called “Repunzel” and sent him information about how to make explosives and shoot down aircraft and was seeking to get to Syria to join the terrorist group.
The court heard he was running his own “brand” on the Telegram app called the “Lone Mujahid”, which he used to share advice and encourage attacks.
He also allegedly posted a map of Sixth Avenue in New York with the message: “New York Halloween Parade. Have you made your preparations? The Countdown begins.”
Other posts included a photograph of the Burmese ambassador to the UK with the address of the Burmese embassy saying: “You know what to do.”
Rashid was said to have urged people to “fight and spill the blood to the apes in your land”, adding: “Start planning, start scouting targets, start monitoring entry/exit routes, start preparing tools and weapons/explosive.”
The court was told he prepared acts of terrorism between January and November last year by “messaging individuals he believed to be in ISIS territory, seeking advice about routes to travel to Syria, saving money in order to travel, purchasing equipment, and seeking to obtain tazkiyah (a sponsor), to join ISIS.”
Lancashire police said he had posted 360,000 messages on 150 different chat threads on Telegram. He was arrested at his home at Nelson in Lancashire, north-west England, in November 2017.
Rashid pleaded guilty to three counts of engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts and also admitted one count of encouraging terrorism.
He was given a life sentence for each of three counts of engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts and sentenced to four-and-half years’ imprisonment for the fourth charge, to run concurrently.
Chief Superintendent Will Chatterton, from Counter Terrorism Policing North West, said, “Rashid had spent the past 18 months locked away in a bedroom of his parents’ house where he had made links with known ISIS members and spent hours making online posters and propaganda encouraging would-be terrorists to carry out the most gruesome attacks.”
“He will no longer be able to spread hate and encourage senseless harm and killing. Today the world is just that little bit safer,” he said.
The offences spanned from October 2016 to April this year.