IS supporter who urged attack on Prince George has minimum jail term cut
An Islamic State supporter who called for an attack on Prince George has had his minimum jail term cut on appeal.
Husnain Rashid used a chat group to encourage supporters to target the young prince, posting the address of his school with the chilling message “even the Royal family will not be left alone”.
The 32-year-old, of Leonard Street, Nelson, Lancashire, was handed a life sentence with a minimum term of 25 years at Woolwich Crown Court in July last year after pleading guilty to four terror offences.
But his tariff was reduced to 19 years by the Court of Appeal on Tuesday.
Lord Justice Holroyde, sitting with two other senior judges, upheld Rashid’s life sentence, rejecting an argument by his lawyers that it was not justified.
He told the court: “We are satisfied that (the Crown Court judge) was entitled to come to the conclusion that the seriousness of these offences, taken together, was such as to justify a sentence of life imprisonment.”
However, he said the original minimum term was too long, adding: “We accept that the judge fell into error in some aspects of his application of the sentencing guidelines.”
The court heard police found nearly 300,000 messages on Rashid’s mobile phone, and further evidence on his computer, when he was arrested in November 2017.
A message sent to a Telegram chat group on October 13 that year included a photograph of Prince George, then aged four, who had started at Thomas’s Battersea in south-west London a month earlier.
The picture was superimposed with silhouettes of two masked jihadi fighters and Rashid had added: “School starts early.”
The court heard his plans were “indiscriminate” and made no distinction between adult and child, or between members of fighting forces and civilians.
Lord Justice Holroyde said Rashid’s suggestions included injecting poison into supermarket ice creams and targeting Prince George at his first school.
He also discussed how to bring down an aircraft using lasers with a British terrorist in Syria, the court heard.
He also posted suggestions of which British football stadiums terrorists could strike following the deadly attack outside Besiktas’s ground in Turkey.
Over a year-long period before his arrest he ran a Telegram channel and online magazine, both named the Lone Muhajid, where he provided detailed information to help people plan and commit terror attacks.
His list of targets for “lone wolf” attacks, involving vehicles, weapons and bombs, were wide-ranging and included British Army bases, shopping centres and Government buildings.
He also suggested supporters should target high-profile events including the 2018 football World Cup in Russia and the New York Halloween parade.
The court heard he planned to flee to Syria to fight for IS and had researched potential travel routes, but had been unable to get a “recommendation” from a jihadi fighter by the time of his arrest.
Rashid also posted a photograph of the Burmese ambassador to the UK, saying “You know what to do”, and urged others to “fight and spill the blood to the apes in your land”.
Sentencing him, Judge Andrew Lees said: “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.
“You provided what you regarded as inspiration for suitable targets for lone wolf terror attacks.
“Attacks in Western countries were, in your eyes, the only suitable acceptable alternative to jihad itself.”
Rashid initially maintained his innocence, but changed his pleas to guilty after the prosecution outlined its case at trial.
He admitted three counts of engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts and one count of encouraging terrorism.
Two further charges of dissemination of a terrorist publication were laid on file.