Speaking to Sky News from a jail in Syria, Jack Letts urges his parents who were convicted of funding terrorism “not to give up”.
Monday 24 June 2019 09:18, UK
A suspected Islamic State militant from the UK, dubbed “Jihadi Jack”, has told Sky News he regrets what he did and feels guilty for what he put his parents through.
Speaking from the prison in Syria where he is being held by Kurdish authorities, Jack Letts urged mum Sally Lane, 57, and dad John Letts, 58, “not to give up”.
It is his first interview since his parents were found guilty of funding terrorism after they sent him cash.
Muslim convert Jack Letts, who left his family home in Oxford in 2014, said: “I feel guilty because I’m the reason they are going through this.”
He added: “I understand I am being punished because of what I have done but my mother shouldn’t be punished for that.”
He said: “They didn’t do anything wrong. They sent me money to leave [Syria]. It’s not like they were funding some sort of terrorist activity.
“Two atheists being convicted for Islamic terrorism doesn’t make much sense.”
Letts went on: “I was surprised they were convicted. They are definitely not Islamic fundamentalists. They are not even Muslims.”
He said he would “love to go home” but admitted it was far-fetched – adding that he had “no intention of blowing [British people] up”.
Letts confessed to fighting against the Syrian regime but said he regretted being with the “wrong people”.
And he urged his parents to have patience, adding: “I hope to see them one day… I really want to see them, more than I have in my whole life.”
He added: “They only sent me $300 – I bought glasses and maybe falafel… I didn’t buy any nuclear weapons.”
Also speaking to Sky News, his mother Sally Lane said: “Obviously I’m incredibly reassured to hear he is well and how concerned he was about us.We just need this whole situation to end.”
She added: “We just need him out now. This awful situation has gone on too long. Now we can launch our campaign to get him out and to get a fair trial.”
Ignoring repeated warnings their son may have joined IS in Syria, and despite being told by police three times not to send money, they tried to wire him more than £1,700.
They were convicted at the Old Bailey on Friday of one terror count, for sending him £223 – but were spared jail with suspended sentences.
They told the court they had wanted to help get their son out of danger in the war-ravaged country.
But prosecutors said the couple had “turned a blind eye” to warnings by officers and charity workers that the cash could inadvertently fund terrorism, a crime under the Terrorism Act.
They were found not guilty of a second terror charge of sending him a further £1,000 in December 2015, and the jury was undecided on a third charge relating to an attempt to send money in January the following year.
Letts’s mother, a former Oxfam fundraising officer, told how her life is “in ruins”, while his father, an organic farmer, said their conviction for funding terrorism “destroys me”.
In a statement after the trial, they maintained they did “what any parent would do if they thought that their child’s life was in danger”.
Lane has now told The Mail On Sunday that while she was “immensely pleased” not to be in prison, her life was “in ruins”.
She told the newspaper: “My career and my life are in ruins. The people I used to work with don’t return my calls. Above all, Jack is still a prisoner.”
She said she thinks about her son, who is being held in northern Syria accused of being a member of IS, “every second of every day”.
John Letts told the paper: “Being found to have supported terrorism is a tremendous blow. It’s going to have a huge impact. Inside, it destroys me.”
He added that he will “never give up” on his son.
Meanwhile, chief executive of Active Change Foundation Hanif Qadir, who has previously tried to de-radicalise Jack Letts, told Sky News: “I would still say he poses a threat. But we can turn that threat into promise if we get a chance to work with the individual.”