Britain launches airstrikes hours after Parliament backs ISIS bombings

Updated 1:53 AM EST, Thu December 3, 2015
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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
PHOTO: Greater Manchester Police
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)
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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)
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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's stronghold.
 / AFP PHOTO / AL-FURQAN MEDIA / --/AFP/Getty Images
(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

British fighters conduct airstrikes, MOD says

British lawmakers approved airstrikes on ISIS in Syria

German parliamentarians are expected to rubber-stamp Chancellor's commitment

(CNN) —  

British fighter jets have taken part in their first airstrikes in Syria, hours after UK lawmakers voted in favor of bombing ISIS strongholds there.

“RAF Tornadoes have just returned from their first offensive operation over Syria and have conducted strikes,” a spokesman for Britain’s Ministry of Defense (MOD) said early Thursday.

The four jets took off from Akrotiri air base in Cyprus, targeting an oil field in Eastern Syria, the MOD told CNN.

More details on the operation are expected from the ministry later today.

Lawmakers voted 397 in favor of action and 223 against, following a 10-hour debate.

After the November 13 terror attacks in Paris, France asked the U.S.-led coalition to bump up the military offensive against ISIS.

Now that Britain has decided to expand airstrikes that it previously conducted only in Iraq, the spotlight is on the German Parliament, which also is expected to approve greater military commitment against the terror group.

The German plan would activate 1,200 troops in anti-ISIS efforts, but in a support role – not direct combat.

U.S. President Barack Obama welcomed the British move and said the coalition would work “to integrate them into our coalition air tasking orders as quickly as possible.”

British airstrikes

Prime Minister David Cameron kicked off the debate by saying that ISIS is a threat to the British people, proved in part through the beheadings of UK hostages in the Middle East and other atrocities.

“This is not about whether we want to fight terrorism. It’s about how best we do that,” Cameron said.

He said the UK faces “‘a fundamental threat to our security” and posed the question, “Do we work with our allies to degrade and destruct this threat … or do we sit back and wait for them to attack us?”

“This is the right thing to do to keep Britain safe, to deal with this evil organization and as part of a process to bring peace and stability to Syria,” Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told CNN.

Hammond said the military campaign will have two stages: airstrikes to degrade ISIS capabilities and an eventual ground assault.

The airstrikes can begin “pretty much straight away” after the vote passes, he said.

War on ISIS: Who’s doing what?

In his rebuttal to Cameron, Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn called the Syria decision “one with potentially far-reaching consequences for us all, here in Britain, people in Syria and those in Middle East.”

Corbyn called for Cameron to explain “how British bombing in Syria will contribute to a comprehensive, negotiated, political settlement of the Syrian war.”

After the vote, Corbyn tweeted that Cameron pushed for the Parliament vote after he saw opposition in the country was growing. Corbyn said a diplomatic settlement on Syria should be the goal.

Britain’s Parliament voted in 2013 against UK military action in Syria. Lawmakers in the House of Commons rebuffed Cameron’s call for a strong response to allegations the Syrian government had used chemical weapons in the civil war. Parliamentary authorization has only been given for UK military action in neighboring Iraq as part of the international coalition against ISIS.

German reconnaissance

German legislators on Wednesday were debating on an expanded commitment, deploying high-tech intelligence jets over Syria and northern Iraq to help other countries’ forces pinpoint targets.

The Cabinet, representing a country known for its reluctance since World War II to engage in military adventures abroad, approved the military support mission against ISIS in Syria this week. Lawmakers must approve it, too, before it takes effect.

The measure reportedly has overwhelming political support, with only two smaller parties objecting. The vote is widely seen as a rubber stamping of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s recent commitment to France’s Hollande.

In addition to sending troops and equipment in a support capacity against ISIS in Syria, Germany would strengthen its training mission in northern Iraq, according to German public media news site Deutsche Welle.

Germany has not committed to airstrikes, and its post-World War II constitution hinders it in participating in battle on foreign soil.

U.S. ‘special operators’

The United States has already been pummeling ISIS’ de facto capital of Raqqa, Syria. On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced the United States will send in a special targeting force to carry out raids against ISIS in Iraq.

“In full coordination with the government of Iraq, we’re deploying a specialized expeditionary targeting force to assist Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces and to put even more pressure on ISIL,” Carter said before the House Armed Services Committee, using another name for ISIS.

“These special operators will over time be able to conduct raids, free hostages, gather intelligence and capture ISIL leaders.”

The force is in addition to the “less than 50” Special Operations Forces that Obama authorized in October to aid in the fight against ISIS in Syria.

Former intel chief: White House ignored ISIS

CNN’s Barbara Starr in Washington and Max Foster, Kellie Morgan and Vasco Cotovio in London, Annie Rose Ramos in Atlanta contributed to this report.