LILLEY: Jihadi Jack’s parents ask Canada to bring the Brit here

Classic example of off-shoring citizenship revocation. One of the examples against the previous Conservative government’s C-24, ironically that Lilley supported at the time if memory serves me correct:

The parents of British-born terrorist Jihadi Jack are seeking the help of politicians in this country to get him sprung from a Syrian prison to live a life of freedom in Canada.

Emails obtained exclusively by the Toronto Sun show that John and Sally Letts have approached MPs and senators asking for meetings to assist their son Jack.

Nikita Bernardi, a public relations consultant working on behalf of the family, makes an empathetic pitch for a man who has admitted to being a member of ISIS and willing to detonate a suicide bomb.

“Jack, who is 23, has been held without charge, and therefore arbitrarily and illegally, since 2017 by the Kurdish forces in overcrowded and unsanitary prison conditions,” Bernardi wrote last week.

Jack Letts was born in Britain in 1995, and beyond some trips to Canada to visit relatives, has never lived here. He was raised in the U.K., educated in the U.K., converted to Islam as a teen in the U.K., and went to Syria in 2014 at the age of 19 because he rejected life in Britain.

He is able to claim Canadian citizenship because his father is a Canadian who moved to Britain decades ago. His connections to this country, beyond asking for consular assistance, are negligible at best, but since the British government stripped him of his citizenship there in 2019, Letts may only be recognized as a Canadian now.

That doesn’t mean we should take him or lift a finger to help him, despite claims by Bernardi that Letts is owed, “assistance and protection as is necessary.”

“Unfortunately, the Canadian government continues to take no action towards repatriating Jack,” Bernardi wrote.

You can’t repatriate someone who has never lived here.

He went to fight in Syria, something he and his family have denied for several years. But a 2019 interview with the BBC shows Letts discussing his work with ISIS and desire to be a suicide bomber — if needed — in battle.

“I used to want to at one point, believe it or not,” Letts told the BBC. “Not a vest. I wanted to do it in a car. I said if there’s a chance, I will do it.”

In 2019, when the Brits pulled citizenship from Letts, then-public safety minister Ralph Goodale said the government was disappointed with the British government’s “unilateral action to offload their responsibilities.”

Asked for comment Monday, Marco Mendicino, the current public safety minister, declined to comment on any specific case, but a spokesperson said criminal charges and prosecution could be in the future of any extremist traveller who comes to Canada.

“It is a Criminal Code offence to travel abroad to engage in terrorist activity. If an extremist traveller is seeking to enter Canada, federal departments work together to tailor an approach to address the threat that the individual may pose,” said spokesperson Craig MacBride.

He added that the government could use tools, including peace bonds, the no-fly list, and revocation of passports in dealing with such travellers.

The family has filed complaints against both the British and Canadian governments and with the United Nations. Bernardi wrote that Canada can be held responsible for anything that happens to Jack while he is in a Kurdish prison.

Did the Canadian government send him to Syria to fight with one of the most blood-thirsty groups the world has even seen? No, they did not — he did that on his own.

There are Canadians, actual Canadians born here or who have lived here at least, held in foreign prisons for various crimes. We don’t get them all back, and we don’t have to try.

If Letts gets out of that Kurdish prison, he is Britain’s problem, not ours.

Source: LILLEY: Jihadi Jack’s parents ask Canada to bring the Brit here

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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