Jihadi Jack’s mother speaks of ‘guilty thoughts’ in memoir

The mother of suspected fighter known as Jihadi Jack spoke in a new memoir of the “guilty thoughts” she lives with daily. Sally Lane, 60, mother of British-born Muslim convert Jack Letts, 27, wrote about the “constant internal discussions” about whether her parenting and a “chaotic” household influenced her son’s decision to travel to Syria as a teenager.

As reported by , Lane wrote in her memoir titled Reasonable Cause to Suspect: “I wondered if they thought Jack’s problems stemmed from his over-liberal parents who hadn’t taken a firm enough hand with him.

“Later on, a portion of the general public certainly believed this to be the case.

“I’ve wondered this myself during my constant internal discussions. Over and over again, I’ve raked over all the incidents of his childhood where I could have been better, or acted differently.”

In her memoir, Lane also said to be racked with “self-recrimination”, explaining she is critical of herself for not taking Letts’ obsessive-compulsive disorder “seriously enough”.

The mother also asked herself whether her son was given “too much agency” during his younger years, “so that he grew up with the belief that he could, as an individual, change the world?”

Letts, whose father is Canadian, may have been “traumatised” when he spent his “formative years” living with Lane, his younger brother and a group of lodgers, “including an aggressive heroin addict whose friends regularly robbed the place”, the mother wrote in the book.

Lane is a former Oxfam worker married to John Letts, 62, an organic farmer.

The memoir’s author recalled how she and her husband split for a couple of years when Letts was aged three, an event she fears may have also had an impact on the suspected ISIS fighter born in 1995.

Letts, who held dual UK and Canadian citizenship, travelled from his home in Oxford to Syria in the summer of 2014.

His parents had paid for him to visit a Muslim friend in neighbouring Jordan, but by the autumn of that year he was in Raqqa, then considered ISIS’ stronghold.

Letts’ mother and father denied he travelled to Syria to fight with ISIS.

The man was captured in 2017 by pro-Western forces as he tried to flee IS territory into Turkey and was taken to a prison in Qamishi, Rojava.

In her book, Lane said police in Britain became aware of her son’s presence in Syria only in December 2014, after being tipped off by Letts’ Canadian aunts scared he would “commit terrorist acts” in their homeland.

The Home Office stripped Jihadi Jack of his British citizenship in 2019 on national security grounds.


Letts told in 2019 he never killed or hurt anyone in ISIS, only “fought the Syrian regime which killed more than a million Syrians”.

Speaking with also in 2019, he said he “accidentally” joined “a very bad group of people, thinking they are Muslims”.

During that interview, carried out in a Kurdish-run prison, also said he felt “guilty” for ruining his family with his “stupid decision”.

In January, Canada’s federal court ruled the Canadian Government must bring home four Canadian citizens being held in camps in northeast Syria – with Letts understood to be among the people interested by this decision.

The Canadian Government said it will appeal the ruling.

Earlier that month an agreement to repatriate six women and 13 children, also held in Syrian camps.