The mother of the suspected UK Isis fighter nicknamed Jihadi Jack has said she wonders whether her ‘over-liberal parenting’ was to blame for him joining the terrorist group.
In a new autobiography, Sally Lane expresses her ‘guilty thoughts’ about the way she raised her son Jack Letts, and admits some elements of his childhood were ‘chaotic’.
Letts left the UK and travelled to Syria in 2014 when he was 18, having reportedly told his parents he was going to visit Kuwait after seeing a friend in Jordan.
Kurdish authorities captured him three years later, and the Home Office stripped him of his British citizenship in 2019 – meaning he became the responsibility of the Canadian government.
Since that point, he has been kept in a Kurdish prison in Syria – though it was reported last month that Canada plans to repatriate him.
According to The Times, Ms Lane, 60, writes about a meeting she had with tutors at a further education college in Oxford about her son’s behaviour in the memoir, titled Reasonable Cause to Suspect.
She writes: ‘I wondered if they thought Jack’s problems stemmed from his over-liberal parents who hadn’t taken a firm enough hand with him.
‘Later on, a portion of the general public certainly believed this to be the case.
‘I’ve wondered this myself during my constant internal discussions. Over and over again, I’ve raked over all the incidents of his childhood where I could have been better, or acted differently.’
She says she lives with ‘guilty thoughts’ about moments that may have traumatised him at an early age.
One such example is when Letts ‘spent formative years in a chaotic household that he, his younger brother and I shared with a group of lodgers, including an aggressive heroin addict whose friends regularly robbed the place’.
Ms Lane, who now lives in Ottawa, and her husband John Letts, 62, became the first British parents to be charged with terrorism offences when they sent their son £223 in September 2015.
They were found guilty of entering into a funding arrangement for terrorism purposes and given 15-month suspended sentences after a trial at the Old Bailey the following year.
In her book, Ms Lane says her son – now 27 – told her he would disown his parents if they refused to embrace Islam like he did.
But when Letts spoke to ITV News from his Kurdish jail in 2019, he struck a softer tone and described what he was missing about the home he had left half a decade earlier.
He said: ‘I miss people mostly, I miss my mum. Five years I haven’t seen my mum, two years I haven’t spoken to my mum.
‘I miss pasties. And Doctor Who.’
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