‘Jihadi Jack’ denies joining ISIS, calls reports ‘awkward’
A 20-year-old boy accused of being the first white Briton to join Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) has distanced himself from allegations suggesting he is a terrorist, calling the claims “awkward.”
More than one year ago, Jack Letts - dubbed ‘Jihadi Jack’ - converted to Islam and traveled to Syria. He has since been accused of fighting for IS, but his family has dismissed these reports, insisting he is carrying out “humanitarian work.”
It is also claimed that Letts is now living under the name Abu Mohammed and has a wife and son.
In private Facebook messages seen by the Independent, Letts denied the claims and said: “It’s sort of awkward when the media thinks your ISIS and you’re not.”
“Maybe they got bored worrying about what colour socks certain celebrities wear and took out the frustration on me? [sic]” he wrote on the social media site.
The suspected terrorist then went on to accuse the media of publishing lies about him because of his faith.
“The formula with the media is simple: English guy became Muslim + went to the Middle East + followed Islam = ISIS + eats babies x evil,” he said.
“It doesn’t help, admittedly, that bare [lots of] different people have used my fb account [some of whom are extreme etc.. and only got my password through one guy I stupidly trusted].”
Responding to allegations that he has been in contact with Omar Hussain, the former supermarket worker from High Wycombe who left Britain to fight for Isis in 2014, Letts said: “I just read that I met with some guy called umar in some article. First time I learn this amongst the other lies [sic].”
Mocking tabloid newspaper reports, he added: “One of the funniest articles was the one were the last sentence was ‘Jack Letts and ISIS have been contacted for comment. Like me and ISIS have like a shared office in which we receive requests for comment and were still thinking about whether to reply or not.”
Earlier this week, Letts’ mother Sally dismissed reports suggesting her son is a terrorist, saying they are “absolutely ridiculous.”
“He is not a member of ISIS, he is very probably not the first white convert that has gone out there. He does not have a son and is not known as Abu Mohammed,” she told the Evening Standard.
“We spoke to him yesterday and he said he had never had a weapon in his life. He went out there for humanitarian purposes to help kids in Syrian refugee camps.
“It is not as if he is hiding - he tells us what he has for breakfast. All this is absolutely ridiculous, it is shocking,” his mother continued.
‘Did talk passionately about ISIS’
However, according to the Mail Online, Letts is a frontline fighter for the terrorist group.
One anonymous source, believed to be a friend of Letts, claimed he started to “talk passionately about ISIS” after he befriended a group of Muslim boys at school.
“He started befriending a group of Muslim boys at the school and that exposed him to Islam. I noticed he started becoming very preachy and was using Arabic, which was strange because I only ever saw him as a typical Oxford boy,” the source told the paper.
“He did talk passionately about ISIS, but I always assumed he meant he opposed them, not that he would join them.”
Some 800 British citizens are thought to have traveled to Iraq and Syria and there are growing fears about them returning to the UK to plot terror attacks in Britain.
Earlier this month, Home Secretary Theresa May announced nearly 400 of the 800 Britons who traveled to Syria since the start of the civil war have returned.
“Since the start of the conflict in Syria, more than 800 people from the UK who are of national security concern are thought to have travelled to the region, and we believe that around half of those have returned. Those who have travelled include young women and families,” May told the House of Commons.
‘Great need to strengthen EU’s response to terror’
In a report published on Monday, International police agency Europol warned that IS is preparing to bring mayhem to the streets of Europe, similar to the suicide bombings and shootings which left 130 people dead in Paris in November.
Apart from the jihadist group’s main bases in Syria, it has “smaller-scale training camps in the EU and Balkan [region],” Europol found.
The report says there is “every reason” to expect another IS-led terror attack in the coming months, as the group has a new “combat style capability.”
“There is every reason to expect that IS, IS-inspired terrorists or another religiously inspired terrorist group will undertake a terrorist attack somewhere in Europe again, intended to cause mass casualties amongst the civilian population,” Europol said in the report.
In a statement, Europol stressed that the threat of further terror attacks in Europe remains high, but added that there is a “great need” within the EU to “strengthen our response to terror.”
The publication of Europol’s report comes after the release of IS’ new propaganda video, showing the alleged Paris attackers participating in murders in a desert.