The Liberals and Conservatives are expressing no enthusiasm for trying to secure the release of British-Canadian Jack Letts, dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by the British media, from prison in Syria following word that London has revoked his citizenship. Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says Letts should remain locked up. Scheer is shown in this Aug. 14, 2019 File photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michael Bell

Conservative Leader Scheer won’t ‘lift finger’ to bring ‘Jihadi Jack’ to Canada

About 190 people with connections to Canada are suspected of terrorist activity abroad

Neither the governing Liberals nor the Opposition Conservatives expressed enthusiasm Monday for trying to secure the release of the overseas prisoner dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by the British media.

Questions once again emerged about the fate of Jack Letts, the British-Canadian man held in a Kurdish jail in Syria, following word that London recently revoked his citizenship.

Letts’ father John has said his son, who still holds Canadian citizenship, went to Syria to help create a peaceful Muslim state and was never involved in violence perpetrated by the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

According to John Letts, the Kurds expressed willingness last year to hand his son over to Canadian authorities. He has also said Global Affairs Canada told the family for months that it was working to get their son released but that the department then decided it was too dangerous.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says Letts should remain locked up.

“Jihadi Jack is in prison now and that is where he should stay,” Scheer said Monday in a statement. “A Conservative government under my leadership will not lift a finger to bring him back to Canada.”

READ MORE: Canada ‘disappointed’ terror suspect’s British citizenship revoked

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau needs to explain to Canadians “why he and his government worked so hard to bring him here,” Scheer added.

Asked Monday if he would welcome Letts to Canada, Trudeau would only say it is a crime to travel internationally with the aim of supporting terrorism. “And that is a crime that we will continue to make all attempts to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law. That is the message we have for Canadians and for anyone involved.”

The Canadian government expressed disappointment Sunday that the United Kingdom had moved to “off-load their responsibilities” by stripping Letts’ British citizenship.

“Terrorism knows no borders, so countries need to work together to keep each other safe,” the federal statement said.

“Investigating, arresting, charging and prosecuting any Canadian involved in terrorism or violent extremism is our primary objective. They must be held accountable for their actions.”

The government added that while it is aware of Canadian citizens detained in Syria, there is no legal obligation to facilitate their return. “We will not expose our consular officials to undue risk in this dangerous part of the world.”

In June, Trudeau expressed confidence in the RCMP to investigate Canadians who travelled to fight alongside extremists in Iraq and Syria.

He said the Mounties and intelligence agencies in Canada and abroad face the difficult challenge of presenting the information they gather in court as evidence of crimes.

The government is ensuring Canadian agencies have the necessary resources and opportunities to collaborate with foreign allies on such cases, he added.

The latest annual federal report on extremism says some 190 people with connections to Canada are suspected of terrorist activity abroad and, in addition, approximately 60 have returned.

The activities of these Canadians in various countries could involve front-line fighting, training, logistical support, fundraising or studying at extremist-influenced schools.

A small number of the 60 returnees have come back from Turkey, Iraq or Syria but many who remain abroad now lack valid travel documents, find themselves on a no-fly list or fear being arrested on Canadian soil.

Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Thousands have used Abbotsford’s pedestrian and cycling bridge over the winter

Mayor says he’s pleased with usage of Salton Road highway crossing during winter

Aspiring entrepreneurs invited to pitch ideas at Dragons’ Den auditions

Abbotsford and Vancouver the only Lower Mainland try-out locations

Great-grandma’s wish granted to take photos from new heights

Ilona Lelkes of Langley will fly on Cessna 172 Cessna from Abbotsford

Abbotsford football talents ink university commitments

Panthers Catlin and Coronado, Mouat’s Duval announce signings

Clothing, jewelry, purses: RCMP ask court about disposal of evidence in Robert Pickton case

Pickton was sentenced to life with no chance of parole for 25 years for the murders of six women

Ryan nets hat trick in return as Senators beat Canucks 5-2

Ottawa winger received assistance for admitted alcohol problem

Wet’suwet’en herreditary chiefs meet with provincial, federal ministers

Neither party speaking on the groundwork laid for tomorrow’s talks

Speaker ‘will not tolerate illegal activity’ on B.C. legislature grounds, says chief of staff

Chief of staff to the B.C. speaker Alan Mullen says situation with demonstrators appears ‘fluid’

MPs to examine privacy implications of facial-recognition technology used by RCMP

The MPs will look at how the technology affects the privacy, security and safety of children

Dates back to 2009: Calgary police lay charges in fraud involving semi-trucks

Three people from Calgary are facing charges that include fraud over $5,000

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs optimistic ahead of talks with feds, province

Discussions with provincial and federal governments expected to start later today

‘The project is proceeding’: Horgan resolute in support of northern B.C. pipeline

B.C. premier speaks as talks scheduled with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

Most Read