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A man from Lancashire who encouraged Islamic extremists to wage jihad in the West, including targeting Prince George and injecting poison in to supermarket ice-cream, has been convicted today (31 May).
Husnain Rashid, 32, posted messages online glorifying successful terrorist atrocities committed by others while encouraging and inciting his readers to plan and commit attacks.
One of his posts included a photograph of Prince George, along with the address of his school, a black silhouette of a jihad fighter and the message ìeven the royal family will not be left aloneî.
His common theme was that attacks could be carried out by one individual acting alone. Rashid suggested perpetrators had the option of using poisons, vehicles, weapons, bombs, chemicals or knives. Rashid uploaded terrorist material to an online library he created with the goal of helping others plan an attack.
He also planned to travel to Turkey and Syria with the intention of fighting in Daesh-controlled territories. He contacted individuals he believed to be in Daesh territory, seeking advice on how to reach Syria and how to obtain the required authorisation necessary to join a fighting group.
Rashid provided one individual who had travelled to Syria and was known online as ìRepunzelî, with information about methods of shooting down aircraft and jamming missile systems.
All the offences relate to Rashidís activities online between October 2016 and his arrest in November 2017.
Rashidís trial started on 23 May at Woolwich Crown Court but he changed his plea to guilty on four counts on 31 May. He will be sentenced on 28 June.
Sue Hemming from the CPS said: ìHusnain Rashid is an extremist who not only sought to encourage others to commit attacks on targets in the West but was planning to travel aboard so he could fight himself.
ìHe tried to argue that he had not done anything illegal but with the overwhelming weight of evidence against him he changed his plea to guilty.
ìThe judge will now deci
A man from Lancashire who encouraged Islamic extremists to wage jihad in the West, including targeting Prince George and injecting poison in to supermarket ice-cream, has been convicted today (31 May). Husnain Rashid, 32, posted messages online glorifying successful terrorist atrocities committed by others while encouraging and inciting his readers to plan and commit attacks. One of his posts included a photograph of Prince George, along with the address of his school, a black silhouette of a jihad fighter and the message ìeven the royal family will not be left aloneî. His common theme was that attacks could be carried out by one individual acting alone. Rashid suggested perpetrators had the option of using poisons, vehicles, weapons, bombs, chemicals or knives. Rashid uploaded terrorist material to an online library he created with the goal of helping others plan an attack. He also planned to travel to Turkey and Syria with the intention of fighting in Daesh-controlled territories. He contacted individuals he believed to be in Daesh territory, seeking advice on how to reach Syria and how to obtain the required authorisation necessary to join a fighting group. Rashid provided one individual who had travelled to Syria and was known online as ìRepunzelî, with information about methods of shooting down aircraft and jamming missile systems. All the offences relate to Rashidís activities online between October 2016 and his arrest in November 2017. Rashidís trial started on 23 May at Woolwich Crown Court but he changed his plea to guilty on four counts on 31 May. He will be sentenced on 28 June. Sue Hemming from the CPS said: ìHusnain Rashid is an extremist who not only sought to encourage others to commit attacks on targets in the West but was planning to travel aboard so he could fight himself. ìHe tried to argue that he had not done anything illegal but with the overwhelming weight of evidence against him he changed his plea to guilty. ìThe judge will now deci
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FILE - In this undated file photo released by a militant website, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, militants of the Islamic State group hold up their weapons and wave flags on their vehicles in a convoy on a road leading to Iraq, while riding in Raqqa, Syria. Simultaneous attacks on the Islamic State-held city of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa, the de facto IS capital across the border in eastern Syria, would make military sense: They would make it harder for the extremists to move reinforcements and deny them a safe haven. (Militant website via AP, File)
FILE - In this undated file photo released by a militant website, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, militants of the Islamic State group hold up their weapons and wave flags on their vehicles in a convoy on a road leading to Iraq, while riding in Raqqa, Syria. Simultaneous attacks on the Islamic State-held city of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa, the de facto IS capital across the border in eastern Syria, would make military sense: They would make it harder for the extremists to move reinforcements and deny them a safe haven. (Militant website via AP, File)
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(FILES) This image grab taken from a propaganda video released on July 5, 2014 by al-Furqan Media allegedly shows the leader of the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, aka Caliph Ibrahim, adressing Muslim worshippers at a mosque in the militant-held northern Iraqi city of Mosul. 
The Russian army on June 16, 2017 said it hit Islamic State leaders in an airstrike in Syria last month and was seeking to verify whether IS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been killed. In a statement, the army said Sukhoi warplanes carried out a 10-minute night-time strike on May 28 at a location near Raqa, where IS leaders had gathered to plan a pullout by militants from the group
(FILES) This image grab taken from a propaganda video released on July 5, 2014 by al-Furqan Media allegedly shows the leader of the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, aka Caliph Ibrahim, adressing Muslim worshippers at a mosque in the militant-held northern Iraqi city of Mosul. The Russian army on June 16, 2017 said it hit Islamic State leaders in an airstrike in Syria last month and was seeking to verify whether IS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been killed. In a statement, the army said Sukhoi warplanes carried out a 10-minute night-time strike on May 28 at a location near Raqa, where IS leaders had gathered to plan a pullout by militants from the group's stronghold. / AFP PHOTO / AL-FURQAN MEDIA / --/AFP/Getty Images
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Story highlights

NEW: Ex-Iraqi minister: Arming Sunni tribes is dangerous because ISIS could get weapons

Local official: An alliance of Iraqi troops and Sunni and Shiite fighters launches an offensive

The aim is to halt ISIS' momentum after the terror group took the Anbar province city of Ramadi

(CNN) —  

After days of ISIS fighters advancing east out of Ramadi, an alliance of Iraqi forces opposed to the terror group have launched a counterattack – hoping to push them away from a key Iraqi military base and the country’s capital.

The Iraqis repelled an ISIS attack on the town of Khalidiya and then launched their own offensive to the west Saturday, toward the town of Husayba, which ISIS captured just a day earlier, said Faleh al-Eissawi, deputy governor of Anbar province.

The pushback by Sunni tribal fighters, Iraqi security forces and a Shiite militia could comprise the first significant counterattack in the area since ISIS took control of Ramadi, capital of the predominantly Sunni Anbar province, earlier this month.

The fighting in the Ramadi area has prompted thousands of civilians to flee in recent weeks, many of them to Baghdad, 65 miles (105 kilometers) to the east.

PHOTO: CNN/Institute for the Study of War

ISIS, the extremist Islamist group that has captured portions of Iraq and Syria for what it calls its Islamic caliphate, has brutalized not only its military opponents but also civilians accused of favoring the government or who don’t subscribe to ISIS’ brand of Islam.

In the Ramadi area, witnesses said ISIS militants summarily executed people in the street whom they accused of working with the government.

“They were killing anyone who they accused of being with the police or the army,” one witness told CNN.

ISIS’ march east toward Baghdad

Until Saturday’s counterattack, ISIS forces have been inching east since capturing Ramadi, seemingly intending to create an ISIS-controlled corridor along the Euphrates River between Ramadi and another Anbar city it already held, Falluja. The latter city is situated just 37 miles (60 kilometers) west of Baghdad.

Standing between Ramadi and Falluja are government-controlled communities like Khalidiya and Habbaniya. Habbaniya is home to an Iraqi military base, which the Iraqi government now sees as a staging point for Iraqi security forces and Shiite militias hoping to help Sunni tribesmen retake Ramadi and the rest of Anbar.

One of the outstanding issues is whether the Iraqi government should arm Sunni tribes fighting in the region.

That’s something Iraq’s Shiite-led government has been slow to do. Adnan al-Assadi, an interior minister under ex-Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and now a lawmaker in al-Maliki’s block, said he and his allies oppose such a move not for sectarian reasons but to prevent such weapons from being used against the government.

“All attempts to send arms and ammunition must be through the central government, that is why we refused the American proposal to arm the tribes in Anbar,” al-Assad told CNN. “We want to make sure that the weapons would not end up in the wrong hands, especially ISIS.”

Yet U.N. Special Representative for Iraq Jan Kubis said such a step, among others, is necessary. Doing so would fall in line with current Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi’s pledge to work to heal his country’s Sunni and Shiite divides, as well as to give Sunnis the tools to defend themselves.

“(We should) enable the local tribes, to enable Sunni volunteers, to arm them to take care of their own security and to be a real strong part of this popular mobilization,” Kubis told CNN.

Fleeing civilians blocked by closed bridge

Anbar citizens trying to flee east toward Baghdad ran into difficulty on Friday, as a bridge linking Anbar to Baghdad province was closed.

The Bzebiz Bridge is the only safe passage from Anbar to Baghdad for thousands of displaced people trying to flee.

Officials did not give CNN a clear answer as to why it was shut down.

“ISIS from that side, and from here the road is blocked,” said Sabah Hamid, a woman fleeing ISIS. “Where are we supposed to go?”

Normally there are security procedures in place for the bridge – the Iraqi government requires that anyone who is not from Baghdad and is trying to enter the area from Anbar must have a sponsor in Baghdad. There are reports that the restrictions have been lifted sporadically over the past few days.

On Friday, however, many were stuck in Anbar because of the bridge’s closing, and they were simultaneously fearful of ISIS and furious at their government.

One man told CNN that he was so upset that if he died, he didn’t want to be buried in Iraq. He said he cannot consider as his own a country that would treat him so.

CNN’s Arwa Damon and Hamdi Alkhshali reported from Baghdad. CNN’s Jason Hanna wrote in Atlanta. CNN’s Joshua Berlinger and Greg Botelho contributed to this report.