U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a statement on the counter-ISIL campaign in the Pentagon briefing room December 14, 2015 in Arlington, Virginia. President Obama met previously with a National Security Council on the counter-ISIL campaign. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
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U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a statement on the counter-ISIL campaign in the Pentagon briefing room December 14, 2015 in Arlington, Virginia. President Obama met previously with a National Security Council on the counter-ISIL campaign. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
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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
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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
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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

President Barack Obama met with military leaders at the Pentagon on Monday

Obama said the visit was part of an ongoing effort to "review and constantly strengthen" U.S. military plans against ISIS.

Obama has been under pressure to reassure Americans that his strategy against ISIS is working

(CNN) —  

The U.S.-led military coalition is hitting ISIS “harder than ever,” President Barack Obama said at the Pentagon on Monday, sharpening his rhetoric on the war as he comes under criticism for his strategy after a pair of ISIS-linked attacks.

Listing Islamic State leaders taken out by U.S. airstrikes – including the executioner known as “Jihadi John” – Obama sought to convey forward momentum in the battle, even as Americans’ fears of an attack inside the United States grow.

“ISIL leaders cannot hide, and our next message to them is simple: You are next,” Obama said, using the government’s preferred term for ISIS, assessing that ISIS had lost 40% of the territory it once held in Iraq.

Obama said the U.S. and coalition partners had launched nearly 9,000 airstrikes since the campaign against ISIS began last year, noting the number of bombs dropped in November was higher than any previous month.

“Every day, we destroy as well more of ISIL’s forces – their fighting positions, bunkers, and staging areas; their heavy weapons, bomb-making factories, compounds and training camps,” Obama said. “In many places, ISIL has lost its freedom of maneuver because they know if they mass their forces, we will wipe them out.”

But even that progress, Obama admitted, remains incremental. And he acknowledged that far-away victories do little to calm fears inside the U.S. of an attack on the homeland.

“We are recognizing that progress needs to keep coming faster,” Obama said. “Nobody knows it more than the countless Syrians and people living under the terror, and the people in San Bernardino and Paris and elsewhere who are grieving the loss of their loved ones.”

Obama was speaking after meeting with his National Security Council at the Pentagon. It’s rare for Obama to meet with his top military brass and homeland security experts outside the White House Situation Room; the session at the Defense Department was meant to convey the seriousness with which the President is approaching the military strategy in Iraq and Syria.

Obama said the visit was part of an ongoing effort to “review and constantly strengthen” U.S. military plans against ISIS. He announced during the meeting the Defense Secretary Ashton Carter would soon depart on a trip to the Middle East to further examine the anti-ISIS military strategy.

Obama has been under pressure to reassure Americans that his strategy against ISIS is working following terror attacks linked to the group in Paris and California.

Before those incidents, Obama sounded confident in coalition efforts against ISIS, saying in interviews that the group’s land-grab was “contained” and that the U.S. homeland has “never been more protected.”

The U.S. and its partners have been enjoying some gains on the ground, including retaking Sinjar Mountain in Iraq and beginning to advance on Ramadi, held by ISIS since the spring.

In his remarks, Obama noted recent attempts to destroy ISIS oil infrastructure and touted the recent death of ISIS’ finance chief. He said some who previously pledged allegiance to the group were defecting.

“More people are seeing ISIL for the thugs, and the thieves, and the killers that they are,” he said.

But despite the actions the President detailed, the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino shook Americans’ confidence in the government’s ability to protect them from terror groups. Obama delivered a rare primetime address to update the nation on his anti-ISIS strategy last Sunday, and on Thursday will receive a briefing at the National Counterterrorism Center, outside Washington, on the latest intelligence about holiday threats.

But the ramp-up in events designed to convey Obama’s steadfastness against ISIS hasn’t been paired with a large-scale shift in strategy. Obama has consistently ruled out sending a large number of ground forces into Iraq or Syria, saying the nation has no appetite for another American-led war in the Middle East.

He has sent small number of Special Operations forces, including announcing the deployment of additional operators to Iraq at the beginning of December.

The U.S. has also ramped up intelligence gathering in partnership with European allies, an effort that doesn’t lend itself to grand displays of military strength that could help assuage fears in the U.S.

Republicans, long critical of Obama’s ISIS strategy, said the President’s Pentagon visit Monday amounted to a public relations campaign.

“This politically motivated photo-op won’t do a thing to protect the American people from another attack,” said Republican National Committee spokesman Michael Short.

While scaling up his ISIS messaging, Obama has also attempted to counter anti-Islam sentiments in the United States, insisting that the U.S. is not at war with the millions of peaceful Muslims who have decried terrorism.

As part of those efforts, members of Obama’s staff were meeting with American Muslim leaders at the White House Monday, though the President himself was not scheduled to attend.