A British-born ISIS fighter nicknamed “Jihadi Jack” is among 23 people linked to the terror group set to be repatriated to Canada.
Muslim convert Jack Letts, 28, held dual British and Canadian citizenship when he travelled from Oxfordshire to Syria in 2014 to join ISIS.
He referred to himself as an “enemy of Britain” and spent three years with the group before being captured by western-backed Kurdish forces in 2017.
The man nicknamed “Jihadi Jack” by the British media has spent the past six years in prison in northern Syria.
The Home Office in 2019 stripped him of his British passport, rendering him the responsibility of the Canadian government.
The move sparked angry words between the two powers, with Ottawa accusing London of “offloading its responsibilities” on its ally.
Letts had pleaded with the Conservative government to allow him to return to his country of birth, pledging he had “no intention” of harming anyone.
He said that while he was “not innocent”, he had hoped to be allowed to face justice in Britain.
The Canadian government has agreed to take back 23 of its citizens — including Letts — following a court case brought against it by the detainees’ relatives.
The families argued Ottawa was obliged to repatriate the group under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Canada's foreign ministry on Friday announced its decision to repatriate six Canadian women and 13 infants. And the Canadian federal court later ruled that four men seeking repatriation as part of the group must also be sent back to Canada, said lawyer Barbara Jackman, who is representing one of the men.
In its ruling, the court cited the poor conditions of the prison where the men are detained and that they have not been charged or brought to trial.
“The conditions of the … men are even more dire than those of the women and children who Canada has just agreed to repatriate,” the ruling stated.
“There is no evidence any of them have been tried or convicted, let alone tried in a manner recognised or sanctioned by international law.”
The move came after security experts warned of a potential return of ISIS this year if the West does not step up its support for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces guarding prisons and camps housing terrorists and their families.
Dr Paul Stott, head of security and extremism at the Policy Exchange think tank, told The National the SDF “are not going to be able to do this indefinitely”.
“If we don't have a resolution to this, [ISIS fighters] may break out from prisons,” he said.
“There's also the issue that some of the young people who are coming of age in these camps are of fighting age and are ideal recruits for ISIS.”