'Maybe I was too liberal': Mother of Islamist 'Jihadi Jack' says she is 'racked with self-recrimination' over son's crimes

19 February 2023, 12:15

Jack Letts mother said she was 'racked with self-incrimination'
Jack Letts mother said she was 'racked with self-incrimination'. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

The mother of a British-born Islamist who allegedly joined ISIS as a teenager and declared himself "an enemy of Britain" has told of her guilty thoughts at her son's decisions.

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Sally Lane, 63, said she wondered if her parenting style was "over-liberal" and whether her son's "chaotic" upbringing after her separation from his father played a part in his fate.

Jack Letts, now 28, travelled to Syria, allegedly to join ISIS, as a teenager in 2014 after converting to Islam. He has denied being a member of the terror organisation.

He was captured by Kurdish forces in 2017, and has been in a Kurdish prison ever since.

Letts, who also has a Canadian passport through his father, was stripped of his British citizenship in 2019.

Jack Letts with his father
Jack Letts with his father. Picture: Alamy

His mother said in her memoir, Reasonable Cause to Suspect, that she had been "racked with self-recrimination" about her role in what her son did.

Ms Lane said that the family lived with lodgers, including "an aggressive heroin addict whose friends regularly robbed the place." She wondered if Letts needed "a firmer hand" during his upbringing.

She added: "Perhaps he had been traumatised when, at the age of three, his father and I separated for a couple of years and he had spent formative years in a chaotic household.

Jack Letts
Jack Letts. Picture: Alamy

"Over and over again, I've raked over all the incidents of his childhood where I could have been better, or acted differently.

"All these guilty thoughts and doubts I have lived with daily.:

They were convicted of entering into a funding arrangement for terrorism purposes and given 15-month suspended jail sentences.

"We've been convicted for doing what any parents would do if their child was in danger," they said at the time.

Jack Letts with his mother
Jack Letts with his mother. Picture: Alamy

Speaking to LBC in 2019, Ms Lane and Mr Letts said their son had been tortured in prison, as they sought to get him released.

Asked if it was possible they had been blinded by love for their son, and it was possible he is "guilty of terrible things," Ms Lane said: "I think he deserves the opportunity to actually have a fair trial.

"Where he can have the opportunity to speak for himself."

Mr Letts was quick to say he had considered the possibility, adding: "If he has done something wrong he should be locked up after a fair trial."He added he would still love his son, even if he was guilty of crimes.

Parents Of 'Jihadi Jack' Speak To LBC Following Their Son Losing Citizenship

"Over and over again, I've raked over all the incidents of his childhood where I could have been better, or acted differently.'All these guilty thoughts and doubts I have lived with daily."

Ms Lane and Letts' father John Letts became the first British couple charged with terrorism offences after they sent their son money to support himself in Syria.

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