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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
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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(CNN) —  

Several Russians who had been hired as paramilitary contractors were among more than 100 men killed in US airstrikes in northern Syria last week, according to their friends and families.

The men were working for a private Russian company called Wagner, which has sent hundreds of private contractors to Syria to help both the Russian military and pro-regime forces, according to people who knew them.

One of the dead was 51-year-old Vladimir Loginov. Like many contractors who have gone to Syria, he was a member of a Cossack group of ultranationalists who have also fought in eastern Ukraine.

The Baltic Cossack District said in a statement that Loginov was a Russian citizen who was killed in an “unequal battle” while “heroically defending our Fatherland in its far reaches from crazy barbarians” when he died on February 7.

“Vladimir died for the Fatherland, the Cossacks and the Orthodox faith!” the group said.

CNN has been able to confirm the names of at least three other Russians who were killed supporting pro-regime militia in a large-scale attack that day. According to US officials, a force of some 500 crossed the Euphrates River near Deir Ezzor, along with tanks, missile launchers and artillery.

Their target was a base of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, which came under artillery fire. A US detachment was at the base. The US responded with airstrikes that killed about 100 of the attackers, according to the coalition, with the rest retreating.

One of the Russians killed was Kirill Ananyev, according to his friend Aleksandr Averin. He said Ananyev had been in Syria “a little over a year” and that he had been killed when “American artillery smashed the Wagner unit.”

Averin said he believed that casualties among the Russians present amounted to more than “the typical Wagner loss of just a couple of people.”

Most of the casualties, according to local sources, appear to have been members of a pro-regime Christian militia from the town of al Suqaylabiyah. Earlier this week, there was a mass funeral for about 30 members of the militia – which often describes itself as the “ISIS hunters” – in the town.

Two sons of a prominent tribal leader were also killed, according to social-media posts from Syria.

Wagner, which is under US sanctions for supporting separatists in eastern Ukraine, has several hundred contractors in Syria, according to analysts. In December, Nikolay Tikhonivch from Tomsk was killed “in the area of the Hama-Idlib highway,” according to a social-media post from the “Rus” patriotic group to which he belonged.

Two Wagner contractors who were captured by ISIS in November have not been heard from since appearing in a video soon after being seized. They are believed to be dead, according to Russian officials.

Wagner is registered in Hong Kong and has no public offices in Russia and no contact details. Efforts by CNN to reach the company were unsuccessful.

US puzzled

US Defense Secretary General James Mattis has said that the US was puzzled by the attack near Deir Ezzor last week.

“The Russians told us they had no forces there initially. I think that’s still the case but we don’t have full clarity on what the regime forces are doing there,” Mattis said over the weekend.

The US and Russian militaries have de-confliction channels to prevent accidental clashes in Syria and alert each other to movements.

“The Russians professed that they were not aware when we called them about that force that had crossed [the Euphrates]. As it came closer they were notified when the firing began,” Mattis said.

Neither the Kremlin nor the Russian Ministry of Defense talks about private military contractors in Syria. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday: “We have no information regarding other Russians who may be in Syria.”

It is very difficult to estimate the number of Russians working as military contractors in Syria and the number who are killed.

For days, rumors have swept through Russian social media that far more than a handful of Wagner contractors were killed in last week’s engagement. On Monday liberal presidential candidate Grigory Yavlinsky said: “If massive Russian casualties took place, then relevant officials … must announce this to the country and find out who is responsible.”

Kremlin spokesman Peskov rejected Yavlinsky’s assertion, saying: “I don’t think Yavlinsky has more reliable sources than this.”

There were many Russian citizens overseas, Peskov said, “and it’s very hard to have detailed information.”