Ex-Defence Forces member Lisa Smith walks free from prison

Lisa Smith

Eamon Dillon

Convicted Islamic State member Lisa Smith is free from prison just a year after being convicted and sentenced to 15 months for joining the terror group.

The former solder left Limerick Prison on Wednesday afternoon where she was collected by a family member, having served her time.

All prisoners are entitled to 25 per cent remission and the Dundalk woman had been described as a model prisoner while at the prison’s women’s wing.

Speaking to the Sunday World before she into prison last year she rejected calls made by former jihadist that she "free herself from the psychological mental prison of Islam", saying: "That's not going to happen, no! I love my religion, it's what I live for now."

Asked at the time if she was hopeful she would not get a jail sentence, Smith responded: "For me, look, it's OK, it doesn't matter.”

"My life is my life, my journey is my journey.”

She had previously been living in tough conditions at a Syrian refugee camp with her young daughter before being sent back to Ireland in December 2019 where she was arrested.

During her time at the camp she said in one interview she was not involved in fighting and did not train girls to become fighters.

She also claimed she had been visited more than once by the FBI for questioning, and agents had taken her fingerprints and DNA.

But the 40-year-old, mother of one, was found guilty in May after a nine-week trial at the non-jury Special Criminal Court.

Delivering the verdict, Judge Tony Hunt said it had established that she travelled to Syria "with her eyes open" and pledged allegiance to ISIS, then led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

He noted that while Smith is a low risk for re-offending, she was persistent and determined in her efforts to travel to Syria and join Isis and has shown no remorse for her actions.

The judge said it was "serious" for an Irish citizen to take up allegiance with a terrorist organisation and persist with it.

The court rejected Smith’s claims she had travelled to the Islamic State out of a sense of religious obligation and for the purpose of living under Sharia law.

In October 2015, she bought a one-way ticket, travelled from Dublin to Turkey, and crossed the border into an IS-controlled area of Syria.

The Court of Appeal ruled against her appeal on the severity of her sentence just last March which meant she had to stay her prison until her release date of 27 May.

The regime in Limerick Prison is considered much stricter than the main women’s jail, the Dóchas Centre in Dublin.

Today's News in 90 seconds - May 26th