Should Canada ‘take back’ Jihadi Jack?



I place the sad dilemma of the Letts family — their son Jack is imprisoned in Kurdish territory after travelling to Syria — in a classification I secretly call “So what did you think would happen?” Annoyed as just about everyone is with “Jihadi Jack” Letts, he has dual U.K./Canadian citizenship and has to be brought back home. But how and where?

Teenagers, they do madden us to the max. It is the deep drag of their nature just as it is for parents who wreck their lives to rescue their clueless offspring. Jack, you’re grounded.

I write about the Letts because there is a poignance to the story — I have yet to find that in any Trump-related scandal — of the daft/vile Western men who went to Syria, perhaps to join Daesh, also known as ISIS or ISIL, and now yearn for a homeland that regards them with disgust.

The Star’s famed national security reporter Michelle Shephard has written about the case, which is complicated and poses problems for every nation and person drawn into it.

Here’s the mad part. British-born Jack, who has unspecified mental health problems plus OCD and Tourette’s syndrome, converted to Islam as a teenager, left the U.K., headed to Kuwait at age 18 — amazingly with his parents’ permission — and in 2014 popped up in Syria. He is alleged to have posted shocking things on Facebook, and in the summer of 2015, he posed for a photo, smiling, with the one-finger salute used by Daesh. It is not clear what he did for them or if he ever joined.

But the notorious video of Daesh masked men burning a Jordanian pilot alive, making him watch as the fire snaked towards his cage, came out in February 2015. I’ve watched it twice, I saw a brave man melting, and even by terrorist standards, this was evil beyond human understanding. Jack must have known about their bloody talents, their mass hacking and hanging.

And then the British police visited his parents, who were eventually charged with abetting terrorism for sending Jack money to escape Raqqa. Jack is now being been held by Kurdish militia. Kurds, the most betrayed group in the Middle East, are sick of Western pests — they visit nations as blithely as the U.S invaded Iraq — and would happily unload them to any nation who’ll take them.

Here is the sad. Jack’s parents, John Letts and Sally Lane, are gentle, trusting people, an organic farmer married to a freelance book editor. The Letts left Canada for the U.K. in 1990 to live in Oxford. Though they are all dual citizens, Jack has only visited Canada occasionally.

Here’s the problem. The U.K., having seen terrorist bloodbaths on its own soil, is clearly hoping that British citizens who left to fight for a mass-murdering, pedophilic, torture-loving women-hating force of evil, just rot where they are. Not unreasonably, Jack has grown terribly fond of Canada, as have his parents.

But there is no diplomatic mechanism for Canada or the U.K. to deal with the Kurds, who have no nation. Jack has become known as “Jihadi Jack.” If only his name didn’t start with J, one Guardian reader mourned, he wouldn’t have been given that fatal nickname. No, it would be Isis Irving or Beheader Boris.

“A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said, which is true, but Jack really stretches the point. “I want to come back to Canada,” Jack has said. Back? He was never really here. That said, he is technically Canadian and we must defend a principle.

Britain made Jack. I doubt they will refuse to take him if that means irritating Canada. We are one of the few friends they have left, Brexit having alienated Europe almost to the point of being shunned. We are kind to William and Kate when they visit, though we groan at the ridiculous Charles. We do our colonial bit.

There is a tinge of double-standards here. If John and Sally were British Muslims, they would, doubtless without public sympathy, face the same criminal charges.

If the best lack all conviction and the worst are full of passionate intensity, how is one to characterize the gentle, implacable, relentlessly well-intentioned?

Source :

Toronto Star

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