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Is Nelson Isis supporter set for life behind bars?

Husnain Rashid (pic: BBC)
Husnain Rashid (pic: BBC)
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An Islamic State (IS) supporter who called for an attack on Prince George has been warned he could face life behind bars after dramatically changing his plea during his trial.

Husnain Rashid, of Nelson, had maintained his innocence throughout proceedings at Woolwich Crown Court, but on Thursday he changed tack and admitted a string of terror offences.

The 32-year-old used a Telegram chat group to call on supporters on October 13 to target the four-year-old heir to the throne, who had started at Thomas's Battersea, in south-west London, a month earlier. Rashid, of Leonard Street, posted a photograph of the prince at the school super-imposed with silhouettes of two masked jihad fighters.

He also posted suggestions of which British football stadiums terrorists could strike following the deadly attack outside Besiktas's ground in Turkey, and plotted to inject ice cream with poison.

Nearly two weeks into his trial, prosecutor Annabel Darlow said: "The defendant has asked to be re-indicted on counts one to four." He then had three counts of engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts and one count of encouraging terrorism put to him - and pleaded guilty to each.

Judge Andrew Lees told him that the trial had heard the "most disturbing allegations", adding: "It is inevitable that you will receive a very lengthy prison sentence and there will be a consideration of a life prison sentence."

He will be sentenced on June 28th. Two further charges of dissemination of a terrorist publication were laid on file as they were "subsumed" by the allegations to which he had pleaded guilty, Ms Darlow said.

She told the court it was not in the "public interest" to proceed to trial on the remaining count of failing to comply with a notice under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. Judge Andrew Lees said: "In relation to charges five, six and seven, they will lie on file subject to the usual conditions."

The jury were then called in to return guilty verdicts on the four charges Rashid had admitted. His trial had been expected to last six weeks, focusing on offences spanning from October 2016 to April this year.

Last week, prosecutor Annabel Darlow told the court "the underlying message was clear" that "Prince George and other members of the royal family should be viewed as targets".

"Even the royal family will not be left alone," Rashid messaged the group, before sharing the school's full address and postcode. He added: "School starts early."

A magazine he was producing contained suggestions to strike the 2018 World Cup in Russia with vehicles, weapons, or bombs. Rashid, who is said to have taught at the Muhammadi mosque, ran a "prolific" Telegram channel named the Lone Mujahid where he provided an "e-toolkit for terrorism", the prosecution said.

This allegedly included a recipe for the poison ricin from the Islamist propaganda magazine Inspire, how to make Molotov cocktails and napalm, and a suggestion of poisoning supermarket ice creams.

His list of targets were wide-ranging - including British Army bases, shopping centres, Jewish communities, and Government buildings. He also suggested that he planned to flee to Syria to fight for IS.

Ms Darlow said on the first day of the trial: "His proposals were indiscriminate and made no distinction between adult and child, between members of fighting forces and civilians. His suggestions included injecting poison into supermarket ice creams and targeting Prince George at his first school."

He also plotted to bring down an aircraft with lasers with a British terrorist in Syria, the court heard. When police swooped on his house last November, Rashid "hurled" a phone containing a "treasure trove" of evidence over a wall and into an alleyway.

Rashid also posted a photograph of the Burmese ambassador to the UK, saying: "You know what to do", urging others to "fight and spill the blood to the apes in your land" and calling for others to "start preparing tools and weapons/explosives"