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Muslim convert joins Islamic State, family blames ‘right-wing’ media

“‘The only truth is that Jack is a Muslim and he is overseas. But everything else is made up and it is just getting worse.’ The man, who refused to confirm his identity, said the ‘right wing’ media were only ‘interested in a snappy line like “Jihadi Jack” and “Jihadi John” that rolls off the tongue, but it is all wrong.’” Yes, he doubtless went to Syria to study botany.

“Family of convert feared to be with Isil blame right wing conspiracy,” by Tom Whitehead, Telegraph, January 24, 2016:

The family of a man feared to be Britain’s first white convert to join Isil last night claimed he is the victim of a “right wing” conspiracy.

Jack Letts, 20, has been dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by friends after leaving his Oxford home and travelling to Syria, where he is suspected of having joined the terror group.

He has posted photos of himself on social media, thought to have been taken near the Taqba Dam in Syria. In one he is wearing combat-style clothing.

But a man who identified himself only as a close family member insisted there had been “an avalanche of misinformation” about him in the media.

Mr Letts’ father, John, is a leading organic farmer who has appeared on BBC’s Countryfile and won a Prince Charles grant to help preserve crop biodiversity.

John Letts is an archaeobotanist and a leading light in organic wheat as well as being a master thatcher and baker.

Neighbours said he and his family were left devastated and depressed after Jack ran off to Syria in 2014 aged just 18.

One said he first converted to Islam after being encouraged by Muslim classmates but was later radicalised by local extremists.

But speaking at the family home last night, the close family member said: “There has been an avalanche of misinformation.

“We don’t want to comment on all of this, but what I will say is that 95 per cent of what has been published is incorrect, it is desperately wrong.

“The only truth is that Jack is a Muslim and he is overseas. But everything else is made up and it is just getting worse.”

The man, who refused to confirm his identity, said the “right wing” media were only “interested in a snappy line like ‘Jihadi Jack’ and ‘Jihadi John’ that rolls off the tongue, but it is all wrong”.

Mr Letts, now 20, was once a keen sportsman and Liverpool FC fan who had been the “class clown” when a pupil at Cherwell School in Oxford, according to former classmates.

But he converted to Islam and friends fear was then radicalised by local fanatics in discreet prayer meetings.

It is believed he lied to his parents before leaving for Syria and told them he was moving to Kuwait to study Arabic.

Since arriving in Syria, he is thought to have married and had a son.

His father, who is Canadian, is a leading figure in reviving traditional crops that were in common use hundreds of years ago.

He produce heritage flour from wheat grown around Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire and feature on BBC Countryfile last year.

In 2011, he was a co-recipient of £25,000 from the Prince’s Countryside Fund.

Neighbours on the terraced street where the family live in Oxford spoke of their “utter sadness” that the “polite and lovely” boy they had seen grow up had allegedly joined Isil.

One woman Muslim neighbour, who asked to remain anonymous, told how she became concerned after his conversion to Islam.

“He told me he had started visiting a Wahhabi mosque. I believe he started going there with his classmates and I knew this could be bad as Wahhabi is not Islam, it is very bad,” she said.

“I spoke with his father who became very worried when he converted to Islam. I sat with him and told him not to worry….

Yes, he had nothing to worry about. He probably went home reassured that this neighbor with her peaceful Islam could help his son stave off those who tried to “radicalize” him. She failed. Authorities will almost certainly not try to figure out exactly why.

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EDITORS NOTE: The features image is of Ibrahim Jack Letts making the one-finger sign of allegiance to the Islamic State.