Thursday 22 August 2019

'How am I a monster? I didn't fight': Isil bride Lisa Smith denies she was involved in violence

In limbo: Lisa Smith and her daughter are stranded, but her case is a political hot potato, and that may explain the inaction. Photo: Norma Costello
In limbo: Lisa Smith and her daughter are stranded, but her case is a political hot potato, and that may explain the inaction. Photo: Norma Costello
Smith pictured during her days in the Defence Forces
Dundalk native Lisa Smith in a BBC interview
Former Irish soldier Lisa Smith
Lisa Smith
Mystery: Lisa Smith left Ireland to join Isil in 2015
Lisa Smith

Evie Kearney and Cormac McQuinn

Isil bride Lisa Smith has denied she was involved in violence in Syria and has spoken of her fear that she won't be able to return to Ireland.

The 37-year-old Dundalk woman suggested that an example is being made of her and complained that she may be seen as a "monster".

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, meanwhile, said he wanted to see Ms Smith and her two-year-old daughter return to Ireland. But he said he wouldn't put Irish diplomats or military personnel at risk to make that happen.

His comments come after Ms Smith was interviewed for RTÉ News from a camp in Syria where she is being held following the collapse of Isil.

She said her decision to go to the war-torn country to join Isil "wasn't worth it".

Ms Smith said: "What we believed - we actually thought it was going to be an Islamic State... and we would all be joined as one and be very happy. It didn't happen. It wasn't worth it. We failed."

Ms Smith has expressed a wish to return to Ireland with her daughter, but said: "To be honest, I don't think I will be going back, ever.

"That's what I feel. That's what I think. They could be trying to make an example of me because I'm Irish and I'm military and I'm a woman."

Leo Varadkar. Photo: Damien Eagers/INM
Leo Varadkar. Photo: Damien Eagers/INM

She also said she didn't train anyone to fight and wasn't involved in Isil violence.

"Whether they believe it or not that's up to them. I'm telling you from myself, I didn't fight," she said. "I just joined the Islamic State and now I become a monster? How? How am I a monster? I came here to the Islamic State and I didn't do anything.

"I do know there are other people here with really extreme and radical views. I don't even want to communicate with these people. I'm not like this."

Ms Smith expressed concerns over returning to Ireland as she fears her daughter will be seen as the child of a terrorist.

It is understood her British-­born husband and father of the child died earlier this year.

Ms Smith believes that people would soon forget about her if she ever returned to Ireland, saying: "Things die down."

Mr Varadkar was asked about her case on RTÉ Radio, but said he couldn't comment on reports that a proposed military operation for bringing her home had been rejected.

Mr Varadkar said Ms Smith is an Irish citizen and that he was "very conscious that there is a child involved in this".

He pointed out that there was a cost to returning Ms Smith home. He said a lot of Irish people got into difficulty abroad through no fault of their own, adding: "We don't send out Army aircraft to bring them home because the cost of that is very expensive."

He said should Ms Smith return home "gardaí will want to talk to her".

Mr Varadkar said he would not want to separate the child from her mother and said: "I do want her to come home."

But he added: "It is a warzone - we're not going to put our personnel at risk. She did manage to get there on her own."

Irish Independent

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