Radicalisation took place over several years on internet chatrooms and Syrian battlefields
A 10-year veteran of the Defence Forces with a successful career, those who knew Lisa Smith said she “threw her life away” to join an extremist ideology.
From being a self-professed party girl to calling for Muslims to unite and fight the enemy, her radicalisation took place over several years on internet chatrooms and Syrian battlefields.
So, how exactly did Lisa Smith come to travelling to the Islamic State in 2015?
By 2011 the soldier was in her late 20s and had become disillusioned with western life.
She had been in a relationship that ended badly, was drinking to excess and abusing substances, and fell into a cycle of depression.
The Dundalk woman had also grown tired of life in the town. She wanted to, in her words, get away from the alcohol, prostitution, and homosexuality.
She began looking for a purpose in life and pursuing different ideologies including Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity, while also visiting fortune tellers and contemplating the idea of placing her faith in fairies.
Her soul-searching eventually led her to Islam, and in April 2011 she formally converted, adopting the religion's traditions and beliefs.
While some believed it was just a phase, she undertook to reading the Qur'an every day, but also conducted her own research on the internet.
Other converts in Dundalk would comment that Smith appeared naive and would "blindly follow" what she came across online.
The research led her to Salafism, an ultra-conservative ideology which believes in a return to the original political and moral practices of Islam.
Smith became more argumentative in her practice and focused on the "harsh end" of the religion; she would discuss and justify suicide bombings and Al-Qaida's campaign.
She also expressed a desire to marry a Shahid (martyr) and while on military duty would spout "anti-western" rhetoric to her colleagues.
She eventually applied for a discharge from the army in November 2011 after being refused permission to wear her hijab on duty.
Around this time, Smith isolated herself, becoming more withdrawn as she primarily interacted with people online.
Friends noticed she began using aliases including Khadija al-Muslima and changed her online avatar to a man on a horse with a black flag.
In 2012 she joined a Facebook group called 'We Hear We Obey', which discussed and debated Islamic ideology as well as educating people about the caliphate.
The founder of the web page was John Georgelas, an American convert and respected scholar, who would later become one of the most prominent disseminators of ISIS propaganda.
Tania Joya, his ex-wife, described him as a sociopath who was able to overwhelm people with his knowledge of Islamic scripture.
He was also clever, charming, persuasive, and charismatic, with Joya saying he was "like a politician" when it came to seeking donations.
Smith’s vulnerability, and Georgelas’ ability to manipulate, made her a prime target for him.
They were in almost daily contact, and she became his student, hanging on his every word.
Soon she would become infatuated with him, with Joya saying she was "indoctrinated" and "told what to think".
As early as March 2013, they discussed a government being set up to establish a caliphate, with Smith expressing a desire to fight on the frontline.
The conversations were at times jovial about being involved in combat.
In one late night message in 2013, Georgelas joked about marrying Smith in 10 years when she becomes a veteran fighter, ending the post with "lol just kidding".
The times that Smith did question atrocities being carried out, Georgelas was able to convince her it was all justified.
Upon seeing a video of men being locked in cages and drowned, she asked: "Seriously is this allowed in Islam?”
Georgelas reassured her during a lengthy exchange that it was an "eye for an eye", with Smith ultimately accepting that she understood the reasoning behind it.
He eventually persuaded Smith to join him and Tania Joya in Turkey before travelling across the border to Syria.
While Lisa Smith was becoming more enthralled with Islamic extremism, Joya's beliefs were shifting in the opposite direction.
She also had concerns about Smith's admiration for her husband and desire to become his wife, admitting that she tried to drive a wedge between them, before fleeing the warzone with her children.
Lisa Smith's dream of fighting in the frontline during the Syrian civil war didn't materialise.
After arriving, she was laughed at, directed to the kitchen, and married an Al-Qaeda affiliate called Ahmed.
They later moved to his native Tunisia before she returned to Ireland. Here her communications with Georgelas continued.
By this time Abu-Bakr Al-Baghdadi had announced the ISIS caliphate and declared himself the caliph.
Smith and Georgelas began discussing his strategy, her husband's reluctance to pledge loyalty to the Islamic State, and the execution of Iraqi soldiers.
Gardaí recovered one message sent by Smith on July 9, 2014, in which she sent her mentor an article of Muslim scholars rejecting the caliphate.
"What have the scholars done for Muslims. At least (he) got up and did something", she said, adding: "People love to talk but no one wants to walk the line."
In other social media posts, she said of al-Baghdadi: "He is the Caliph by Allah's will", that Muslims should "unite under one banner whether they like him or not" and that they should "fight the enemies".
By this stage she had been entrusted as an administrator of the Facebook group, monitoring communications and users as well as content.
In January 2015, they discussed the penal code, and the following month when the burning of a Jordanian pilot in a cage is brought up, Smith says: "He dropped bombs on innocent Muslims."
In mid-2015, a Telegram group was set up where material was shared including videos of people drowning in cages and rockets being fired at civilians, with the users justifying the acts.
In one response, Smith said: "Now I understand why they were drowned. I didn't know the other half of the story".
There were also discussions about the Tunisian terror attack in 2015, with Smith commenting underneath a post on the atrocity: "Bye bye tourism.”
Toward the end of 2015 she had been radicalised to such an extent that Georgelas convinced her that the caliphate was legitimate, and that she should travel to the Islamic State’s territory thousands of miles from home.
After lying to her family about where she was travelling to, she messaged her sister Lorna from Syria.
In a series of exchanges between October 2015 and the following February she told her family to "become Muslims before it's too late".
Another Facebook post she wrote said: "I will never be home again become Muslims and I'll meet you all in heaven. If not I'll definitely never see ya again."
In a later message she also told them: "I can't live there. No Islam. Heaven doesn't come cheap."
Smith’s dream of living in an Islamic State came to an end in 2019 when she was captured by Syrian forces before being repatriated back to Ireland and charged.
She has since denied ever joining ISIS and, like the other Islamic extremist she conversed with online from her Dundalk home, said she is completely against what the terror group stood for.