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Monday 9 December 2019

'Happy to be home' - Isil bride Lisa Smith quizzed on terror links

Lisa Smith jokes about Irish weather as she flies in from holding camp in Turkey

Relieved: Lisa Smith, with a pink blanket over her head, is escorted from the Turkish Airlines aircraft that brought her back. Photo: Mark Condren
Relieved: Lisa Smith, with a pink blanket over her head, is escorted from the Turkish Airlines aircraft that brought her back. Photo: Mark Condren

Ken Foy, Tom Brady, Ian Begley and Fiona Dillon

Isil sympathiser Lisa Smith was “just happy to be home”, she told gardaí after her arrest at Dublin Airport on suspicion of terrorist offences.

Sources said the Dundalk woman was “very relieved” to be back in Ireland and even spoke to detectives about yesterday’s miserable weather conditions in the capital.

“She was calm and just seemed very relieved to be back – she was even talking about the rain in Dublin,” the source said. “She is just happy to be home, even though it is likely that she is going to be charged with terrorist offences.”

Members of Ms Smith’s family were at Kevin Street garda station in Dublin to support her yesterday while she was being questioned.

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Family spokesman and Louth TD Peter Fitzpatrick told the Irish Independent Ms Smith (38) “is determined to give her side of the story once she is in a position to do so”. 

The former Defence Forces member was arrested by Special Branch officers as she stepped off a flight from Turkey with her two-year-old daughter.

The child was last night in the care of Ms Smith's family, under the supervision of the child and family agency, Tusla.

Ms Smith, who was held in Garda custody overnight, will undergo fresh questioning today about her alleged involvement with Isil.

Held in custody: Lisa Smith arrives at a Kevin Street Garda station in Dublin yesterday. Photo: RTÉ News
Held in custody: Lisa Smith arrives at a Kevin Street Garda station in Dublin yesterday. Photo: RTÉ News

During her detention yesterday, she received a visit from her solicitor and medical attention was also made available to her.

She was taken directly from the airport to the station after being arrested under Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act, which allows detectives to detain her without charge for an initial 48 hours, and then extended to 72 hours.

The questioning is the culmination of an investigation into the activities of Ms Smith after she left the Defence Forces and took an interest in Isil, initially through online contact.

Inquiries were stepped up after it became known to Garda security and intelligence, as well as military intelligence, that she had travelled to Tunisia and later to Syria.

Gardaí and the military have been gathering information through their own resources but, more significantly, through partnerships with other security agencies in the US, the UK, the Middle East and Africa.

After her detention in Syria, gardaí began to expand her investigation file and this is now being used to ask her a series of detailed questions about her activities in Syria and the extent of her support for and involvement in Isil.

She is being questioned about suspected engagement in terrorist activities overseas under the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Act 2005.The file will then be completed and sent to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, which will determine if there is sufficient evidence to charge her.

Ms Smith had been due to fly home on Saturday but her return was delayed by a minor technical hitch and she eventually boarded the first Turkish Airlines flight out of Istanbul to Dublin early yesterday.

A security plan had already been put in place for her arrival at 10.11am and she was accompanied on the flight by officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs, two members of the Army Ranger Wing and a Turkish security officer.

She was met at the rear of the plane by officers and, wearing a pink blanket over her head, was escorted to a Garda car and driven away.

Passengers spoke of their shock at finding out that Isil bride Ms Smith was on the same flight as them.

Paul O'Neill (32), from Darndale, Dublin, said: "I was a bit shocked she was on it to be fair because you think someone would have said something."

Another Dublin passenger, who asked not to be named, said he recognised her straight away.

"I went to the toilet down the back. I looked at her and she looked at me. I was just a bit shocked to see her, you know, you are so used to seeing her on television," they said.

"All you could see were her blue eyes through the black burqa.

"When she got off the plane, they let her out the back door.

"What they did was they put her in the toilet, and opened the door back so nobody could see anything."

Irish Independent

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