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Parents of 'Jihadi Jack' Found Guilty of Funding Terrorism, Receive Suspended Sentence

© Photo : Amaze with our planet / YouTubeJack Letts dubbed 'Jihadi Jack'
Jack Letts dubbed 'Jihadi Jack' - Sputnik International
18-year-old Jack Letts, also known as 'Jihadi Jack', travelled to Syria in 2014 to join Daesh. He fled the group in 2017 and was subsequently captured by Kurdish forces.

The parents of British-born Daesh* fighter 'Jihadi Jack' have been found guilty of funding terrorism and both received suspended prison sentences.

John Letts, 58, and Sally Lane, 57, from Oxford, wired their son £223 in September 2015 while he was in Syria despite knowing he may have joined the Daesh terrorist organisation.

The Oxford couple were accused of sending or attempting to send a total of £1,723 to their son, who is currently being held in a Kurdish YPG prison.

On a second count of funding terrorism, this time for trying to send their son £1,000 in December 2015, they were found not guilty. The jury was undecided on a third accusation.

Letts and Lane were spared prison time after receiving a suspended sentences for 15-months' imprisonment each. They were also slapped with a £140 fine.

Prosecutors responded saying that they had "turned a blind eye" to cautions by both police and charities that the money could ultimately end up in the pocket of terrorists. 

Funding terrorism is a crime under the Terrorism Act but the couple argued that the money was meant to help their son escape harm's way and leave the war-torn country.

The jury were put into the a precarious situation of having to determine whether someone could reasonably suspect their money would end up as funds for terrorism.

Jurors were also tasked with considering if the couple were "under duress", believing their son was in immediate danger. 

The Old Bailey was privy to months worth of conversations between the Letts family trying to convince Jack to return home.

The trial heard that in 2015 the couple had attempted to acquire the services of a people-smuggler to transport their son to Turkey.

They money was sent through a third party but the court accused them of being "naive" to assume it would not end up funding terrorists

But defence lawyers have argued it was "inhumane to the point of being cruel" to try a couple for helping their son.

Defence counsel Henry Blaxland QC said they had "for all intents and purposes lost their son." 

"This prosecution does absolutely nothing to further the prevention of terrorism. In fact it runs the risk of undermining the fight against terrorism as it brings the law into disrepute," Mr Blaxland told the jury.

The trial revealed that in 2014, Letts told his parents he was planning to study Arabic in Jordan before revealing in a phone call that he had in fact gone to Syria and joined the Daesh terrorist group.

The couple had asked the UK government to secure his release but have since found themselves overwhelmed with the charges.

Police were alerted to a social media post of Letts, showing him holding up the infamous one-finger salute on top of a hill in Raqqa, the Daesh caliphate's de facto capital. He was subsequently dubbed 'Jihadi Jack' online.

Letts is a Canadian through his father's side but neither the Canadian or British governments have confirmed they would allow him to re-enter their territories. 

The British government has previously stripped people who travelled to Syria to join terrorist organisations of their citizenship.

The Letts trial contrasts a similar case, where in 2017, Nawal Msaad, a 27-year-old women from north London, was found not guilty of funding terrorism after she was caught attempting to smuggle 20,000 euros (£15,800) to a jihadist fighter in Syria.

*Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State) is a terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries. 

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