Advertisement
World

Parents of ‘Jihadi Jack’ guilty of funding terrorism, U.K. jury finds

At left, John Letts and Sally Lane, parents to Jack Letts, right, who has been dubbed "Jihadi Jack" in the media.
At left, John Letts and Sally Lane, parents to Jack Letts, right, who has been dubbed "Jihadi Jack" in the media. AP/Facebook

The parents of Jack Letts, also known as ‘Jihadi Jack,’ were convicted on Friday of funding terrorism.

John Letts, who is a Canadian citizen, and Sally Lane were found guilty by a jury of sending their son £223 in September 2015 — despite police warnings not to do so.

BBC News reported that the jury at Old Bailey courthouse in London also found the Oxford, U.K.-based couple not guilty of sending him £1,000 in December 2015.

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

According to the Guardian, the jury deliberated three charges of funding terrorism for nearly 20 hours. However, a decision on another sum of money the parents sent, £500 in January 2016, was not reached on Friday.

The parents were sentenced by a judge to 15 months in prison each, suspended for 12 months.

Story continues below advertisement

“It was one thing for parents to be optimistic about their children, and I do acknowledge he is your son, who you love very much. But in this context, you did lose sight of realities,” Judge Nicholas Hilliard told the couple, according to the Telegraph.

The couple’s now-23-year-old son, who is a dual Canadian and British citizen, travelled to Syria in 2014 and was later captured by Kurdish forces.

The jury had previously heard from prosecution that the parents were given several warnings of their son’s interest in the Islamic State.

WATCH: Jihadi Jack’s parents stand trial for funding terrorism

Jihadi Jack’s parents stand trial for funding terrorism
Jihadi Jack’s parents stand trial for funding terrorism

Prosecutor Alison Morgan had previously told the court, the Telegraph reported, 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.

Documents showing messages between Jack and his parents during that period were also presented at the trial. Some of the messages include him telling his parents the money was for a friend of his in Syria and, later, to help him escape the country.

Jack insisted the money was not to fund terror activities.

Story continues below advertisement

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

But in one message, it appeared Lane understood the risk of helping her son: “I would go to prison for you if I thought it gave you a better chance of actually reaching your 25th birthday.”

In May, while making her opening statement at the courthouse, Morgan acknowledged 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.

WATCH: Dad lobbies government to bring alleged ISIS fighters to Canada

Dad lobbies government to bring alleged ISIS fighters to Canada
Dad lobbies government to bring alleged ISIS fighters to Canada

The parents have been pushing the Canadian government to allow their son to come to the country. 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.

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.

Story continues below advertisement

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

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.

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

“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.

—With files from Global News reporter Stewart Bell