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UK strips IS recruit 'Jihadi Jack' of British citizenship

Jack Letts was captured by Kurdish YPG forces while fleeing from Raqqa. [Getty]

Date of publication: 18 August, 2019

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Jack Letts converted to Islam at the age of 16 and travelled to Syria in 2014. He was later captured by Kurdish YPG forces while fleeing from Raqqa.

Britain has revoked the citizenship of a Muslim convert who joined the Islamic State (IS) group as a teenager, according to reports.

Twenty-three-year-old Jack Letts, dubbed 'Jihadi Jack', converted to Islam at 16 and travelled to Syria in 2014 to join IS.

He was later captured by Kurdish YPG forces while fleeing from Raqqa.

The Mail on Sunday said that the move to revoke his citizenship was one of the final decisions made by the government of former prime minister Theresa May.

Read more: British-Canadian IS suspect 'Jihadi Jack' says he wants return to UK

Letts is a dual UK-Canadian national. Under international law a person can only have their citizenship revoked if it does not leave them stateless.

"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 Home Office said in a statement.

"This power is one way we can counter the terrorist threat posed by some of the most dangerous individuals and keep our country safe."

Letts told ITV News earlier this year that he felt British and wanted to return to the United Kingdom from a Kurdish prison where he has been held for two years.

"I feel British, I am British. If the UK accepted me, I would go back to the UK, but I don’t think that’s going to happen," Letts said.

He said in another interview with the BBC that he was injured while fighting on the frontlines in Iraq, and had once considered carrying out a suicide attack.

"I used to want to at one point, believe it or not" he said in the interview. "Not a vest. I wanted to do it in a car. I said if there's a chance, I will do it."

His parents John Letts, 58, and ex-Oxfam fundraiser Sally Lane, 56, were given suspended jail sentences in June after being found guilty of attempting to send money to their son.

The decision to strip Letts of his citizenship comes following widespread attention earlier this year on the case of 19-year-old Briton Shamima Begum, who left the UK aged 15 to live under the IS group.

Former UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid made the controversial move in February of serving Begum's family with a notice saying that the teenager would be stripped of her British citizenship.

International law prevents a government from rendering a person stateless, but Britain reportedly believed that Begum also had Bangladeshi citizenship due to her parents, although she was born in Britain.

Bangladesh, meanwhile, said there was "no question" of her being allowed to enter, and there is legal argument about whether simply having Bangladeshi parents bestows citizenship.

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