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

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.


Israel votes on Benjamin Netanyahu’s political survival

Updated 3 min 24 sec ago

Israel votes on Benjamin Netanyahu’s political survival

  • At one Jerusalem polling station, a trickle of voters arrived just after it opened
  • ‘I think Bibi needs to go’
JERUSALEM: Israel began voting in its second election in five months Tuesday that will decide whether to extend Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s term as the country’s longest-serving prime minister despite corruption allegations against him.
Polls opened at 7:00 am (0400 GMT) and were due to close in most areas at 10:00 pm.
At one Jerusalem polling station, a trickle of voters arrived just after it opened.
“I think Bibi needs to go,” said Gruny Tzivin, a 37-year-old teacher, using Netanyahu’s nickname.
“After so many years it is time for a change and I think it fits with what I believe in for this country.”
The stakes could not be much higher for the 69-year-old right-wing leader who, as in April polls, faces a strong challenge from ex-military chief Benny Gantz and his centrist Blue and White alliance.
Ex-defense minister Avigdor Lieberman, Netanyahu’s former right-hand man turned rival, could play a kingmaker role with his campaign to “make Israel normal again.”
Some 6.4 million people are eligible to vote.
The first exit surveys will be released just after polls close, while official results are not expected until Wednesday.
Opinion polls have indicated another tight race, showing Netanyahu’s Likud and Blue and White winning around 32 seats each in the 120-seat parliament.
Both Netanyahu and Gantz paid a last-minute visit Monday night to Jerusalem’s Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews are allowed to pray.
Netanyahu enters the election after having suffered one of the biggest defeats of his political career following the April vote.
His Likud along with its right-wing and religious allies won a majority, leading Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to task the premier with forming a new government.
But following weeks of discussions, Netanyahu failed, leading him to opt for an unprecedented second election rather than risk having Rivlin choose someone else.
The danger for Netanyahu extends beyond remaining prime minister, a post he has held for a total of more than 13 years.
If he wins, many believe he will seek to have parliament grant him immunity from prosecution while facing the possibility of a corruption indictment in the weeks ahead.
Recognizing the stakes, Netanyahu spent the final days of the campaign seeking to appeal to right-wing nationalists — key to his re-election bid — and to boost turnout among his base.
Those efforts have included a controversial pledge to annex the Jordan Valley, which makes up a third of the occupied West Bank.
He has issued unfounded warnings that the vote could be stolen by fraud in Arab communities, leading critics to accuse him of racism.
But Netanyahu has also highlighted the country’s growing economy and his relationships with world leaders such as US President Donald Trump.
He has tried to label his main opponents “weak” and “leftist” despite their security credentials.
“This is the choice that is open to you: their left-wing government or a strong right-wing government led by me,” he said on Monday.
Gantz has campaigned by presenting himself as an honorable alternative.
He has repeatedly spoken of Netanyahu’s willingness to form a coalition with far-right parties that could help him secure immunity.
Gantz says his alliance, which includes three former armed forces chiefs of staff, wants a unity government that the vast majority of Israelis would support.
“Netanyahu continues to spread rude lies in a desperate attempt to save his government,” Gantz said Monday. “He lies, scolds, skewers, divides.”
Opinion polls show the campaign by Lieberman’s nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party has resonated with voters.
His “make Israel normal again” slogan refers to what the staunch secularist says is the undue influence of ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties on the country’s politics.
He accuses them of seeking to impose Jewish religious law on Israel’s secular population and wants legislation ending the exemption of the ultra-Orthodox from mandatory military service.
Lieberman prevented Netanyahu from forming a coalition after April polls by refusing to relent on his demand that the ultra-Orthodox be required to serve in the military like all other Israelis.
It is not clear he will endorse Netanyahu as prime minister again, which could be enough for Rivlin to allow Gantz to try to form a government.
Israel’s newly reunified Arab parties could also prove decisive with a performance similar to 2015 elections, when they became the third-largest force in parliament.
If so, they could block Netanyahu from continuing as prime minister by recommending Gantz.