Jack Letts’s journey from football fan to jihadi

Once Jack Letts had travelled to Syria, he became almost unrecognisable from the soccer-mad boy who used to sleep with his football.

The elder of Sally Lane and John Letts’s two sons, Jack struggled with obsessive compulsive disorder and Tourette’s at school, jurors were told.

His British-Canadian father described him as a “personable” young man who was “engaging and humorous”.

At the age of 16, he converted to Islam and switched his football obsession for religion.

He used to attend the Bengali mosque in Cowley Road, Oxford, before he came into contact with men with a more radical ideology, jurors were told.

His friend, Anwar Belhimer, told his father he had been saying “worrying things” and urged him to confiscate his passport.

But at the age of 18, his parents supported his decision to study Arabic abroad and he set off for Jordan and Kuwait.

From there, he married an Iraqi woman named Asmaa and they had a son Muhammed.

Despite warning signs, Lane was horrified when he told her he was in Syria in September 2014.

Jack Letts court case
Jack Letts poses in Raqqa, Syria (Counter Terrorism Policing South East/PA)

The court heard he was probably helped to travel to Islamic State territory by a group of fighters from Portsmouth.

He was “disrespectful” to his parents in a series of heated email exchanges, yet they never gave up on their son and were prepared to go to prison to save him.

Jurors in their trial were not told what had become of their son, only that he was alive and now aged 23.

It can now be reported that he has spent the last two years in a prison in Kurdish-held Rojava, in northern Syria.

The British Government has said it has no consular assistance in the region.

Meanwhile, in a phone voicemail to a BBC journalist, Jack appeared not to support their unstinting efforts.

Despite his parents’ high profile campaign for his return, he told a BBC reporter: “To be honest the whole idea of putting pressure on the British Government to come and save me is not something I wanted to do or something I thought was clever.”

In a more recent interview with ITV in February, Jack appeared to have a change of heart.

He said: “If the UK accepted me then I’d go back to the UK, it’s my home. But I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

The 23-year-old, who has scars from an air strike injury, said he missed his mother, pasties and Doctor Who.

He also admitted his experience in Raqqa had made him think at the time the terror attack in Paris in 2015 was a “good thing”.

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