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Parents of Muslim convert ‘Jihadi Jack’ arrive at court to face terror trial

The parents of ‘Jihadi Jack’ sent money to their son in Syria knowing he wanted to go on a suicide mission to kill British soldiers, a court heard.

Botanist John Letts, 58, and book publisher Sally Lane, 56, are said to have wired £1,723 to their son Jack Letts while he was fighting with ISIS.

Despite telling a family friend that Letts, now 24, wanted to fight in Syria, Lane paid for her son to travel to Amman in Jordan on 26 May, 2014, the Old Bailey heard.

He was due to return on 5 June, but he did not, and he began to study Arabic in Kuwait, having received £350 from his mother.

Jurors heard Letts soon started asking his parents to give money to contacts he had made in Lebanon, and from August 2014 there were clear signs he was part of ISIS.

The couple were warned not to do so by academics, police and a charity worker they sought out for advice on how to encourage him to return to the UK, the court heard.

Jack Letts

John Letts, 58, and Sally Lane, 56, arrive at the Old Bailey today (shown left) to face trial for allegedly sending money to their son Jack Letts (right) after he joined ISIS

In July 2015, Linus Doubtfire, a former school friend of Letts, posted a picture on Facebook of soldiers celebrating after completing a British Army artillery course.

Letts saw the image and responded by posting the message ‘I would love to perform a martyrdom operation in this scene’.

His father told him: ‘Do you really think that blowing up a bunch of young soldiers is a victory for Allah? Suicide bombs will achieve nothing Jack.’

Alison Morgan, prosecuting, said: ‘The defendants are the parents of a man called Jack Letts.

‘It is alleged that in 2015 and 2016, the defendants sent or attempted to send money to him at a time when they knew or had reasonable cause to suspect that the money would or might be used for the purposes of terrorism.

‘They knew, or had reasonable cause to suspect that because it was clear from the information available to them that Jack Letts had joined Islamic State and was in Syria.’

The Muslim convert reportedly went by the name Abu Mohammed and married an Iraqi woman with whom he has a son, Muhammed.

He was captured in May last year by Kurdish YPG militia forces in Raqqa, where he allegedly fought for Islamic State which he denies.

Botanist John Letts, 58, and book publisher Sally Lane, 56, (pictured outside court) are said to have wired £1,723 to their son Jack Letts while he was fighting with ISIS

Botanist John Letts, 58, and book publisher Sally Lane, 56, (pictured outside court) are said to have wired £1,723 to their son Jack Letts while he was fighting with ISIS

Ms Morgan continued: ‘This case is about money transfers that these defendants made or tried to make to their son Jack Letts – in person over a counter, or via an electronic transfer – in circumstances where it is alleged that there was every reason for the defendants to suspect that the money sent would or might be used for the purposes of terrorism.

‘It is inevitable that you will have sympathy for them as parents of a man who took himself to Syria, against their wishes.

‘But you will also see from the evidence the way in which this story unfolded.

‘The way in which these defendants came to commit these offences despite being warned by a wide variety of people: those who had associated with Jack Letts before he travelled, academics who the defendants sought out for advice, a charity worker who advised them as to how they might encourage their son to come back from Syria, and numerous police officers.

The parents, from Oxford, deny they should have had reasonable cause to suspect the money would or might be used for terrorist purposes

The parents, from Oxford, deny they should have had reasonable cause to suspect the money would or might be used for terrorist purposes.

Jurors were told of advice given by the South East Counter Terrorism Unit dated 29 December, 2015 which said: ‘If the parents of Jack Letts do go on to choose to send money to him they must be aware that they are liable of committing an offence of Fundraising contrary to section 45 of the Terrorism Act’.

Just two days later receipts from Western Union show Lane and Letts tried to transfer £1,000 from a WHSmiths in Oxford to her son, and then on 4 Januar,y 2016 they tried to transfer £500 online.

The prosecution allege on 2 September Lane and Letts jointly sent £233 from The Money Shop on the Cowley Road in Oxford to someone called Rached Khan in Lebanon.

Ms Morgan read out an email Letts sent saying: ‘You are also now caught up in a crusade that has left so many lives shattered*we wait for a phone call and check Facebook constantly to see if you’re still alive.

‘I hope you haven’t lost your compassion Jack, either towards your brothers or your enemies.

‘I think your leaders are good at twisting the writings of your holy books to justify their actions.

‘You’re at the centre of this mess and in this violent situation extremism will occur on both sides.’

Lane and Letts appeared at the Old Bailey both wearing smart suits and listened intently to the prosecution opening.

John Letts and Sally Lane, of Oxford, denies three charges of entering into a funding arrangement for the purposes of terrorism.

The trial continues 

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