The United Kingdom has revoked the citizenship of Jack Letts, a British-Canadian dual citizen accused of being a supporter of the terror group ISIS.
Letts, also known as “Jihadi Jack” for his connections to Islamic extremism, is currently in a Kurdish prison in Syria awaiting justice.
British law allows the government to strip suspected terrorists of citizenship if they are a citizen of another country.
As Letts is a citizen of Canada through his father, the imprisoned terror suspect is, in theory, the sole responsibility of Canada now.
The British Home Office defended the practice of revoking citizenship as an internationally legal way to prevent terrorists from making a home in the United Kingdom.
“This power is one way we can counter the terrorist threat posed by some of the most dangerous individuals and keep our country safe,” the Home Office said in a statement.
Letts left the United Kingdom in 2014 for Syria shortly after converting to Islam.
A keen supporter of Islamic extremism online, Letts once said that he wished to “perform a martyrdom” on British soldiers.
Letts is largely believed to have joined ISIS while in Syria, although this has not been proven in court. Letts fled the ISIS capital of Raqqa two years ago as the city was captured by the Kurds.
Letts told British reporters he was taken prisoner by the Kurds as he tried to flee to Turkey. He has remained in prison ever since.
The Canadian government criticized the United Kingdom for revoking Letts’ citizenship, claiming the British government is ignoring the duty it has to its citizens.
“The Government of Canada is aware that the United Kingdom revoked the citizenship of Jack Letts. Terrorism knows no borders, so countries need to work together to keep each other safe,” Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said in a statement.
“Canada is disappointed that the United Kingdom has taken this unilateral action to offload their responsibilities.”
Goodale’s statement comes months after a heavily redacted report was released which suggested that the Canadian government was actively looking for ways to bring imprisoned ISIS fighters to Canada. The report notes an event where the Canadian government contacted Letts earlier this year.
Prior to 2016, Canada could have revoked the citizenship of those suspected of terrorism in the same way the United Kingdom has done, thus preventing Letts from becoming a Canadian liability.
However, in 2016 the Trudeau government passed Bill C-6 which prevented terrorists from losing their citizenship.
Bill C-6 allowed convicted terrorists like Zakaria Amara to retain their Canadian citizenship. Amara was the ringleader of a sophisticated terrorist cell known as the Toronto 18. He recruited, trained and groomed fellow Islamist extremists and worked towards a deadly terrorist plot.
Goodale insists that the government is not required to bring Letts to Canada, but has not indicated if they had been considering bringing him to Canada before the United Kingdom revoked his citizenship.
“There is no legal obligation to facilitate their return,” Goodale said.
“We are not able to comment on specific cases or national security operational matters.”
Prime Minister Trudeau did not give a clear answer when asked if Canada was considering bringing Jihadi Jack to Canada.
Andrew Scheer, the Leader of the Official Opposition, said if he was Prime Minister, he “would not lift a finger” to bring Jihadi Jack to Canada.