Alleged IS supporter changes plea in Prince George plot
In September, Kensington Palace released photos of Prince George hand-in-hand with his father, walking into his first day at Thomas’s Battersea School in London. One photo shows him giggling, dressed in his new school uniform: shorts, a sweater and high socks.
About a month later, Husnain Rashid, a 32-year-old from Nelson, Lancashire, encouraged Islamist militants to attack the 4-year-old, posting a photo of him at school with two masked fighters superimposed over it. He also posted the school’s address and wrote that ‘‘even the royal family will not be left alone.’’
‘‘School starts early,’’ he added.
Now Rashid is pleading guilty to encouraging terrorism.
The photo was one of some 360,000 terrorist propaganda messages Rashid has posted on Telegram, a messaging app favored by the Islamic State. His various messages suggested planning attacks on British soccer stadiums, Jewish communities and army bases. His Telegram channel was called the ‘‘Lone Mujahid,’’ and he posted instructions on how to make poison and bombs. A propaganda magazine he produced under the same name suggested attacks on the World Cup in Russia this year.
He even called on supporters to inject cyanide into produce at grocery stores and poison ice cream. And his messages may have been seen millions of times.
The prosecutor, Annabel Darlow, said the message behind Rashid’s threat to the heir to the throne was that ‘‘Prince George and other members of the royal family should be viewed as targets.’’ Darlow said Rashid had tried to produce an ‘‘e-tool kit for terrorism.’’
He was initially charged on seven counts, including encouraging terrorism, preparation of terrorist attacks and dissemination of a terrorist publication. He pleaded not guilty across the board, but the 32-year-old reversed course Thursday, was re-indicted on just four of the counts and pleaded guilty to all of them.
He will be sentenced June 28.
‘‘You have admitted these allegations of encouraging others to commit terrorist activities and publishing statements to encourage the killing of others,’’ Judge Andrew Lees told Rashid. ‘‘It is inevitable that you will receive a very lengthy prison sentence and there will be a consideration of a life prison sentence.’’