Mother of 'Jihadi Jack' fears childhood caused him to join ISIS
Mother of British ISIS fighter ‘Jihadi Jack’ reveals she is racked with ‘self recrimination’ and ‘guilty thoughts’ over fears her ‘liberal’ parenting and his ‘chaotic’ childhood caused him to travel to Syria and join terror group
- Sally Lane said she wonders if ‘over liberal’ parenting led to Letts joining ISIS
- He fled to Syria as a teen in 2014, telling parents he was learning Arabic in Kuwait
- Read more: Canada may repatriate Britain’s ‘Jihadi Jack’ from Syrian prison camp
The mother of British-born Islamist ‘Jihadi Jack’ has said she has ‘guilty thoughts’ about whether her ‘liberal’ parenting and his ‘chaotic’ childhood led to him fleeing to Syria to become a self-declared ‘enemy of Britain’.
In an autobiography, Sally Lane, 60, penned that she wonders if her ‘over liberal’ parenting style influenced her sons decision to travel to the Middle East to join ISIS.
Letts, now 28, held a duel UK and Canadian citizenship and was brought up in Oxfordshire. He fled to Syria as a teenager in 2014, using money given to him by his parents to visit a friend in Jordan.
He reportedly told his parents he intended on learning Arabic and studying the Koran on a three-month trip in Kuwait but joined ISIS in Raqqa.
After being captured by Kurdish authorities in 2017, he begged to be allowed back to the UK but the Home Office tore up his British passport in 2019, making him the responsibility of the Canadian government.
Sally Lane (pictured with young Jack Letts), the mother of British-born Islamist ‘Jihadi Jack’, has said she has ‘guilty thoughts’ about whether his ‘chaotic’ childhood led to him to becoming a self-declared ‘enemy of Britain’
In an autobiography, Sally Lane, 60, has penned that she wonders if her ‘over liberal’ parenting style influenced Jack Letts’ (pictured) decision to travel to the Middle East to join ISIS
Letts, now 28, held a duel UK and Canadian citizenship and was brought up in Oxfordshire. He fled to Syria as a teenager in 2014
He has remained at a Kurdish prison in Syria ever since.
In the memoir, Reasonable Cause to Suspect, Ms Lane explains that her son’s tutors were concerned about his bad behaviour at college, adding she wonders whether it was her fault for not taking ‘a firm enough hand with him’, according to The Times.
Explaining her ‘self-recrimination’, she said she regrets staying with lodgers when Letts was young, adding that they lived with ‘an aggressive heroin addict whose friends regularly robbed the place’.
She also describes the guilt she felt for not taking her son’s obsessive compulsive disorder ‘seriously enough’ and that he perhaps was given ‘too much agency at an early age’ so he grew up thinking he could ‘change the world’.
She added: ‘Perhaps he had been traumatised when, at the age of three, his father and I separated for a couple of years and he had spent formative years in a chaotic household.
‘Over and over again, I’ve raked over all the incidents of his childhood where I could have been better, or acted differently.
‘All these guilty thoughts and doubts I have lived with daily.’
Ms Lane, a former Oxfam fundraiser, and father John Letts, 62, became the first British parents to be charged with terrorism offences after sending money to their son in Syria.
Despite police warnings, his parents sent him £223 in September 2015 and later tried to send a further £1,000.
Following an Old Bailey trial in June, they were found guilty of entering into a funding arrangement for terrorism purposes and given 15-month suspended sentences.
They said at the time: ‘We’ve been convicted for doing what any parents would do if their child was in danger.’
In the book, Ms Lane reveals messages sent by her son, including his claims he would disown his parents if they refused to embrace Islam.
Ms Lane (right), a former Oxfam fundraiser, and father John Letts (left), 62, became the first British parents to be charged with terrorism offences after sending money to their son in Syria
Following an Old Bailey trial in June, they were found guilty of entering into a funding arrangement for terrorism purposes and given 15-month suspended sentences
At the time of the trial, they said: ‘We’ve been convicted for doing what any parents would do if their child was in danger.’ Pictured: John Letts with his son
Last month it was reported that Canada will repatriate ‘Jihadi Jack’ from the prison camp where he is held, raising fears that scores of ISIS sympathisers could soon return to their home countries.
A diplomatic source said the Canadian government had ‘gone berserk’ at the decision to remove Letts’s UK citizenship because he had ‘very little to do with Canada’.
Canada said it would take back 23 of its citizens after the detainees’ relatives argued prevention would violate their constitutional rights, The Telegraph reported.
The Canadian federal court’s decision was based on the conditions of the prison and that they haven’t been charged or convicted.
The ruling read: ‘The conditions of the… men are even more dire than those of the women and children who Canada has just agreed to repatriate.
‘There is no evidence any of them have been tried or convicted, let alone tried in a manner recognized or sanctioned by international law.’
Letts’ case is similar to that of Shamima Begum, the 15-year-old from Bethnal Green, east London, who fled to Syria to join ISIS.
She was one of three schoolgirls who travelled to Syria to join ISIS – was stripped of her British citizenship after she was found, nine months pregnant, in a Syrian refugee camp in February 2019.
The Londoner fled the UK in February 2015 and lived under ISIS rule for more than three years where she married a Dutch jihadi.
She now lives at the al-Roj camp in northern Syria, run by the Syrian Democratic Forces, which she described as ‘worse than a prison’ in her desperate bid to be re-accepted into Western life.
She claims that she is victim of grooming and trafficking, and has recently appealed against the stripping of her citizenship, which national security judges are expected to decide on in the upcoming weeks.
Shamima Begum also lost her UK passport after she was found, nine months pregnant, in a Syrian refugee camp in February 2019
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