MORE parents could face prosecutions for funding terrorism, police have warned, unless they take action to prevent their children from being indoctrinated.

The South East's head of counter terrorism policing, Kath Barnes, has spoken out after the parents of Oxford-born 'Jihadi Jack' were found guilty of funding terrorism by sending money to their son in Syria.

She said similar prosecutions have already happened in other parts of the country, while more could take place with several British citizens still involved in terrorist activities abroad.

READ AGAIN: 'Jihadi Jack' Letts says he feels guilty for parents' terror funding convictions

She said: "We have already seen cases in other parts of the country that are similar.

"When we started this case in 2014, travelling to Syria and other places was seen as quite glamorous for some people.

"What we've tragically found out since then is that many have lost their lives pursuing this.

"There's a lot of young people who are vulnerable for all sorts of reasons, who if they come across the wrong individual with an agenda, then they fall prey to that.

"The earlier we can intervene, the greater chance we've got of shifting the mindset from one that is extreme to something better."


Organic farmer John Letts, 58, and former Oxfam fundraising officer Sally Lane, 57, were each sentenced to 15 months in prison, suspended for 12 months, at the Old Bailey in London last week.

A jury found them guilty of one charge of funding terrorism in September 2015.

Prosecutor Alison Morgan QC said the couple, from Chilswell Road, New Hinksey, had 'turned a blind eye to the obvious' - that their son had joined the murderous terrorist group Islamic State when they sent him £223.

Ms Barnes, a parent herself, said she had sympathy with the couple but their 'wilful blindness' was 'no excuse' for breaking the law.

She said: "It's unimaginable the anguish that the parents have gone through, based on the choices of their son.

"It would be difficult to understand how they didn't at least suspect their son was a terrorist or the money they would be sending would fall into the hands of terrorists.

"Despite the dreadful situation that they were in, there isn't any excuse to break the law.

"Our encounters with them over the course of investigation have always been very understanding of the fact that they are parents in dreadful circumstances.

"As a parent myself, I just can't imagine how dreadful it must have been.

"At the same time we need to be objective in gathering evidence to put before the court."

Jack Letts, 23, who is being held in prison in northern Syria by Kurdish authorities, has said he feels guilty about the prosecution of his parents.

He left the family home in May 2014 to travel to Jordon to learn Arabic before moving into Syria that autumn.

Before his departure, a friend of the teenager had tried to warn his parents about his growing extremism and urged them to confiscate his passport.

Ms Barnes said the most important message for any parent who fears they might find themselves in the same position is to do everything they can to stop their child from travelling to war zones.


She said: "If there is anything you can do as a parent, do not let them travel because they are not going to get less radical on that journey.

"For somebody who has a radical mindset and then travels to a conflict zone; they are likely to get even more resolute in those extreme views.

"They will see atrocities and become de-sensitized to horrible acts of violence and probably commit those acts themselves."

READ ALSO: 'Jihadi Jack' parents John Letts and Sally Lane found guilty of funding terrorism

"If I try to put myself in Letts and Lane's shoes, the best scenario is that they just didn't want to believe that their son could do that.

"But there were so many warning signs, and they chose not to act on those. I can't explain that."

Ms Barnes said that anyone concerned about their children becoming radicalised should tell police or another agency as soon as possible after spotting any warning signs.