Man sug­gested Traf­ford Cen­tre as ter­ror target


Manchester Evening News - - NEWS - By NEAL KEEL­ING neal.keel­ @neal­keel­ing­men

THE Traf­ford Cen­tre was among pos­si­ble tar­gets sug­gested by an Is­lamic State fa­natic who also called for an at­tack on Prince Ge­orge and the World Cup in Rus­sia.

Hus­nain Rashid used an en­crypted mes­sag­ing app to call for the four-yearold prince to be tar­geted by the ter­ror group. He also sug­gested the vast shop­ping cen­tre in a list of po­ten­tial strikes.

He has now been jailed for life and must serve a min­i­mum of 25 years.

Be­fore Rashid pleaded guilty, the court heard that he sent around 300,000 mes­sages and posts on the highly en­crypted com­mu­ni­ca­tion app, Tele­gram dur­ing an 18-month pe­riod.

The mes­sages and posts in­cluded threats against foot­ballers and fans at­tend­ing the World Cup in Rus­sia, in­struc­tions on how to poi­son fruit in su­per­mar­kets with cyanide and en­cour­aged at­tacks on high-pro­file pub­lic fig­ures, in­clud­ing Prince Ge­orge.

Al­though not all the ma­te­rial shared and posted by Rashid has been re­cov­ered, due to the com­plex en­cryp­tion he used, Counter Ter­ror­ism Polic­ing North West of­fi­cers found a draft dig­i­tal magazine that Rashid had been work­ing on which in­cluded a list of des­ti­na­tion hotspots for ter­ror at­tacks, in­clud­ing the Vat­i­can City, a train sta­tion in Aus­tralia and the Traf­ford Cen­tre.

A magazine he was pro­duc­ing also sug­gested a strike on the World Cup with ve­hi­cles, weapons, or bombs.

In one post Rashid sug­gested an at­tack at the New York City Hal­loween pa­rade last year. The event was at­tacked but of­fi­cers found no ev­i­dence to sug­gest it was linked to Rashid’s post.

On Novem­ber 22, last year, when of­fi­cers raided his home, Rashid ran out of the back door of the house to es­cape po­lice and threw his mo­bile phone high into the air to avoid be­ing found with it in his pos­ses­sion.

It landed over a wall, right at the feet of an of­fi­cer who had sur­rounded the house and con­tained “a trea­sure trove” of ev­i­dence the court was told.

Mo­bile phones owned by Rashid were found to have text mes­sages on them be­tween him and the ISIS news agency, Amaq.

Chf Supt Will Chat­ter­ton from Counter Ter­ror­ism Polic­ing North West said: “Rashid had spent the past 18 months locked away in a bed­room of his par­ents’ house where he had made links with known ISIS mem­bers and spent hours mak­ing on­line posters and pro­pa­ganda en­cour­ag­ing would-be ter­ror­ists to carry out the most grue­some at­tacks.”

Rashid, of Leonard Street, Nel­son, in Lan­cashire, had de­nied a string of ter­ror charges through­out his trial at Wool­wich Crown Court in May un­til he dra­mat­i­cally changed his plea.

Rashid, 32, then pleaded guilty to three counts of en­gag­ing in con­duct in prepa­ra­tion of ter­ror­ist acts and one count of en­cour­ag­ing ter­ror­ism.

Two fur­ther charges of dis­sem­i­na­tion of a ter­ror­ist pub­li­ca­tion will be al­lowed to lie on file as it is not in the pub­lic in­ter­est to pro­ceed to trial.

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