Jihadi Jack: ISIS member stripped of UK citizenship

The British-Canadian dual national is in a prison in northern Syria

Jack Letts in a picture he posted on Facebook, near the Tabqa Dam in Syria. Facebook
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British ISIS member Jack Letts, who joined the extremist group fighting in Syria, has had his UK citizenship revoked.

Letts, nicknamed “Jihadi Jack”, converted to Islam as a teenager and later left his school in Oxfordshire to fight in the former ISIS stronghold of Raqqa in 2014.

Now aged 24, he has been in prison in northern Syria for two years after being captured by Kurdish forces.

The Mail on Sunday reported that the government of former prime minister Theresa May, in which Sajid Javid was home secretary, stripped Letts of his citizenship, risking a diplomatic row with Canada, of which Letts is a dual national.

But Mr Javid’s successor, Priti Patel, said she supported the decision.

“It is Priti’s job to keep the country safe and she will do whatever is in her power to keep terrorist fighters out of the UK, including depriving dual nationals of their British citizenship when it is legal to do so and intelligence shows there is a threat,” a source said.

Canada's Public Safety Minister, Ralph Goodale, said the government was "disappointed that the UK has taken this unilateral action to offload their responsibilities".

In June, Letts's Canadian father, John Letts, and British mother, Sally Lane, were found guilty of funding terrorism for transferring £223 (Dh1,026) to their son in 2015, after police warned them repeatedly not to.

The couple were handed a 15-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, in a legal case that cost about £7 million.

It is illegal under international law to strip a person of their citizenship if it leaves them stateless, so the measure can only be enacted against a dual national.

The British Home Office said it did not comment on individual cases but did release a statement.

“Decisions on depriving a dual national of citizenship are based on substantial advice from officials, lawyers and the intelligence agencies, and all available information,” a representative said.

“This power is one way we can counter the terrorist threat posed by some of the most dangerous individuals and keep our country safe.”

The move bears similarities to another highly politicised case of a British ISIS member.

Shamima Begum, who left her home in London to travel to Syria at the age of 15, was also stripped of her UK citizenship by Mr Javid.