‘Jihadi Jack’ parents appear in U.K. court over charges of funding terrorism

Click to play video: 'Jihadi Jack’s parents stand trial for funding terrorism'
Jihadi Jack’s parents stand trial for funding terrorism
WATCH: The trial of a British-Canadian couple is underway in London. Their son, Jack Letts - dubbed Jihadi Jack - is suspected of joining the so-called Islamic State. He is now in a Kurdish prison in northern Syria. As Redmond Shannon reports, Letts' parents are accused of funding terrorism – May 23, 2019

The parents of Jack Letts, also known as ‘Jihadi Jack,’ appeared in a U.K. court for the second day of trial Thursday, facing three charges of funding terrorism.

John Letts and Sally Lane are facing charges over £1,700 they sent, or tried to send, to their son between 2015 and 2016.

Messages between Jack Letts and his parents during that period show him telling them the money was for a friend of his in Syria, and later to help Jack escape the country.

Jack Letts insisted the money was not to fund terror activities.

The 23-year-old, who is a dual Canadian and British citizen, travelled to Syria in 2014 and was subsequently captured by Kurdish forces.

READ MORE: Canada looked at ‘possible options’ for bringing back ISIS members, document shows

Prosecution is arguing that the parents had reason to suspect the money would, or might, be used to fund terrorism.

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While at the Old Bailey courthouse in London, prosecutor Alison Morgan QC acknowledged in opening statements that the parents themselves are not “alleged to be terrorists.”

“It is not suggested that the defendants supported the ideology or actions of Islamic State in any way, or that they sent the money in order to provide positive support to a terrorist group,” she said.

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Morgan also told the court that some friends of Jack had flagged concerns about his desire to go to the Middle East to fight, but the parents ignored these warnings and bought him a plane ticket.

The prosecutor alleged that both parents knew their son was being “manipulated by others,” and cited several online messages exchanged between the family members.

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“Sending money in such circumstances, where you may conclude that it was highly likely to fall into the wrong hands, is against the law,” she said.

Morgan cited one particular case in her opening statement of a former school friend of Jack, Linus Doubtfire, who had completed a course in the British military and posted a celebratory photo on Facebook in July 2015.

READ MORE: Jihadi Jack wants to live in Canada. Here’s what officials are doing for ISIS fighters in Syria

Jack commented on the photo: “I would love to perform a martyrdom operation in this scene.”

In a later exchange, Jack allegedly told his mom and younger brother Tyler, “I honestly want to cut Linus head off.”

In messages exchanged between mother and son in September 2015, sending money was discussed. Months earlier in March, police had already warned the parents not to send their son property or money, Morgan noted.

Similar conversations over sending money continued between them for months. In one message sent by Lane, she wrote to her son: “How do we know what you’ll do with the money? How do we know you’ve left the group you’re with?”

‘Jihadi Jack’ Canadian connection

Letts and Lane are currently pushing the Canadian government to allow their son to come to the country. Jack has Canadian citizenship through his father.

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The U.K. has shown no interest in assisting him.

Canadian officials have said they can try to get Jack into a third country, such as Turkey, though could not make any promises.

WATCH: Parents of ‘Jihadi Jack’ appeal to Canada for help

Click to play video: 'Parents of ‘Jihadi Jack’ appeal to Canada for help'
Parents of ‘Jihadi Jack’ appeal to Canada for help

Global News learned in October 2018 that a Canadian consular official had an hour-long online exchange with Jack who was asking for assistance to leave Syria, where he remains in Kurdish custody.

A transcript of the January 2018 conversation, which Global Affairs Canada sent to his parents, who then shared it with Global News along with other documents, offered a rare look at how Ottawa is handling such cases.

READ MORE: Exclusive — Canadian member of Islamic State caught, but RCMP struggle to lay charges against ISIS fighters

“If it would be possible, would you like to come to Canada? Back to the U.K.?” the consular official asked.

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“I want to live a normal life. I want to come to Canada,” he replied.

The RCMP has recently been looking into transiting Canadian ISIS members held in Syria through neighbouring Turkey, and investigators have been working on developing charges should that happen.

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