UK strips citizenship from dual national Daesh convert ‘Jihadi Jack’

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Letts joined Daesh in Syria in 2014 and is now being held in a Kurdish jail. (Facebook)
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In an interview with ITV News this year, Letts said he would like to return to Britain but deserved what was coming to him. (Screengrab/ITV Youtube)
Updated 18 August 2019
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UK strips citizenship from dual national Daesh convert ‘Jihadi Jack’

  • Canada accuses UK of off-loading its responsibilities
  • Jack Letts, now 24, fled Britain to join Daesh in Syria when he was 18

LONDON: Britain has revoked the citizenship of a dual national Muslim convert to the Daesh group dubbed “Jihadi Jack” being held in northern Syria, leading Canada to accuse the UK of off-loading its responsibilities.
The move targeting Jack Letts, 24, who was a dual UK-Canadian national, has prompted a diplomatic row with Ottawa, Britain’s Mail on Sunday reported.
Former prime minister Theresa May approved the decision — which had been made by then-interior minister Sajid Javid — in one of her last actions before leaving office in early July, the newspaper said.
A spokesperson for Britain’s interior ministry declined to confirm the report, noting it does not routinely comment on individual cases.

“Decisions on depriving a dual national of citizenship are based on substantial advice from officials, lawyers and the intelligence agencies and all available information,” the spokesperson said.
“This power is one way we can counter the terrorist threat posed by some of the most dangerous individuals and keep our country safe.”
However, the office of Canada’s Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale did confirm that “the United Kingdom revoked the citizenship of Jack Letts,” and expressed disappointment at the move.
“Canada is disappointed that the United Kingdom has taken this unilateral action to off-load their responsibilities,” the statement said.
“Terrorism knows no borders, so countries need to work together to keep each other safe.”
Letts was captured by Kurdish forces in Syria and is languishing in jail there, despite saying in a media interview earlier this year he would like to return to Britain.
“I’m not innocent,” he told ITV News. “I deserve what comes to me. But I just want it to be... appropriate... not just haphazard, freestyle punishment in Syria.”
Letts converted to Islam at the age of 16 and fled his home in Oxfordshire, central England, two years later to join Daesh.
His Canadian father and British mother were convicted in a UK court in June of funding terrorism by sending him a small amount of money during his time in Syria, but were spared jail.
The Mail on Sunday also reported that there were concerns that the issue could overshadow a meeting between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Britain’s new leader Boris Johnson at the G7 summit in France next weekend.
The decision is the latest instance of Britain revoking the citizenship of its nationals who went to join the Daesh group’s self-proclaimed caliphate.
In February it faced criticism after stripping Shamima Begum, a teenager who traveled to Syria to marry a Daesh fighter, of her British citizenship.


Weakened Netanyahu seeks Israeli unity government with rival Gantz

Updated 19 September 2019

Weakened Netanyahu seeks Israeli unity government with rival Gantz

  • Gantz is yet to respond to the approach by Netanyahu
  • The change of strategy reflected Netanyahu’s weakened position

JERUSALEM: Israel’s weakened Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu invited his main rival, Benny Gantz, on Thursday to join him in a broad coalition government — an abrupt change of strategy after failing to win a ruling majority in election.
Gantz, a former armed forces chief who heads the centrist Blue and White Party, planned to make a statement at 2 p.m. (1100 GMT), a spokesman said.
Making the surprise offer, Netanyahu, head of the right-wing Likud party and Israel’s longest-serving leader, said in a video clip that in the run-up to Tuesday’s election, he had pledged to form a right-wing government.
“But to my regret, the election results show that this is impossible,” Netanyahu said. “Benny, we must set up a broad unity government, as soon as today. The nation expects us, both of us, to demonstrate responsibility and that we pursue cooperation.”
In subsequent comments, at a ceremony — which Gantz also attended — marking the third anniversary of the death of Israeli statesman Shimon Peres, Netanyahu said his offer came with no preconditions. A smiling Netanyahu and Gantz warmly shook hands at the event.
Netanyahu hinted at a possible rotating premiership deal with Gantz, noting that Peres, a left-wing leader, had forged a coalition with conservative Yitzhak Shamir in which they rotated top office between 1984 and 1988.
Netanyahu’s comments reflected his heightened political vulnerability after again failing to security a parliamentary majority, following an inconclusive election in April.
President Reuven Rivlin, who commands wide respect in Israel in his largely ceremonial position, said he welcomed Netanyahu’s unity call. Under Israeli law, Rivlin taps a party leader to try to form a government after the final vote tally is in.
The campaigns run by Netanyahu, 69, and Gantz, 60, pointed to only narrow differences on many important issues, and an end to the Netanyahu era would be unlikely to bring about significant changes in policy on relations with the United States, the regional struggle against Iran or the Palestinian conflict.
With Israeli media reporting more than 95 percent of votes counted in Tuesday’s election, a Likud-led right-wing, religious bloc looked poised to control 55 of parliament’s 120 seats, with 56 going to a center-left alliance.
On Wednesday, Gantz said he hoped for a “good, desirable unity government.” But he has also ruled out forming one with a Netanyahu-led Likud, citing looming corruption charges against the prime minister. Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing.

“Mr Clean“
Gantz is a newcomer to politics. Many voters saw him as a “Mr Clean,” an alternative to Netanyahu and the cloud of alleged criminal misdeeds hanging over him.
Netanyahu’s call for a broad government preceded a scheduled visit later on Thursday by Jason Greenblatt, an architect of US President Donald Trump’s as-yet unveiled plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Israeli cabinet minister Tzachi Hanegbi, a senior Likud member, said he believed Greenblatt was coming to discuss the peace blueprint.
Palestinians, who seek a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital, have rejected the Trump plan out of hand, accusing the president of pro-Israeli bias.
“As to whether he (Greenblatt) will be presenting the plan, I have no idea,” Hanegbi said on Army Radio.
With Israeli politics in flux, Netanyahu canceled his annual speech at the UN General Assembly next week, a spokesman said on Wednesday about a visit that might have provided an opportunity to meet with Trump.
Netanyahu highlighted his close ties with Trump in his election campaign. But in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Trump appeared to distance himself from Netanyahu, amid political stalemate in Israel.
He told reporters he had not spoken to Netanyahu since Tuesday’s ballot and said: “Our relationship is with Israel.”