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Wednesday 21 August 2019

'I don't think I will be going back to Ireland, ever' - Irish Isil bride Lisa Smith

  • Louth woman says move to Islamic State territory 'wasn't worth it'
  • However, she denies she was radicalised
  • 'How am I a monster? I came here to the Islamic State and I didn't do anything'
  • Varadkar says he wants Smith returned to Ireland
Lisa Smith and her daughter Ruqayya. Photo: Norma Costello
Lisa Smith and her daughter Ruqayya. Photo: Norma Costello
Former Irish soldier Lisa Smith
Wants to come home: Isil bride Lisa Smith hopes to return

Evie Kearney and Cormac McQuinn

IRISH Isil bride Lisa Smith doesn't think she will ever be going back to Ireland and has said her decision to move to Islamic State (IS) "wasn't worth it".

The former member of the Defence Forces told Norma Costello for RTÉ News in Syria that what she believed in didn't materialise when she travelled to Syria four years ago.

Lisa Smith
Lisa Smith

Ms Smith is currently in Ain Issa refugee camp in Syria, where she is being held following the collapse of the so-called Islamic State caliphate.

Ms Smith (37), who now has a two-year-old daughter, insisted she couldn't be blamed for the terrorism carried out by the Islamic State, and also denied she was radicalised.

"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, you know like. It didn't happen," Ms Smith said.

"It wasn't worth it. We failed," she said.

"I don't know what the people came here for, free money? To get married, have four wives? I don't know what people came here for. I don't know why people gave up their lives around the world to come here and to go through this experience.

"I am so angry and confused as well. I just don't understand how the people failed so badly."

Smith pictured during her days in the Defence Forces
Smith pictured during her days in the Defence Forces

Having previously served in the Irish Air Corp, Ms Smith spoke briefly about travelling with former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, former president Mary McAleese and current Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin during her time in service.

“I liked Bertie, he was very sound,” she said of the former Taoiseach, adding  “Mary McAleese, she was down to earth as well" and that she liked flying with Mr Martin.

Read more here: Isil bride Lisa Smith says she never trained with Islamic State as she pleads to return home with daughter

She has been attempting to return to Ireland with her daughter (2) since being detained at the Ain Issa refugee camp near the Turkish border.

"To be honest I don't think I will be going back, ever," she told RTÉ in an interview on Morning Ireland today, but reiterated that she didn't train anyone to fight and wasn't involved in any IS violence.

"Whether they believe it or not that's up to them. I'm telling you from myself I didn't fight," she said. 

Dundalk native Lisa Smith in a BBC interview
Dundalk native Lisa Smith in a BBC interview

"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. I just came here and now it didn't work out."

Ms Smith and her daughter recently moved from the al-Hawl camp near the Iraq border to Ain Issa when she was told she would stay there for two months before being deported.

"They lied to me. They said they were going to deport me and to get my stuff ready. I left everything. Then we came here and this is where they left us.

"Everyone is getting stressed and frustrated because they don't know what's happening to them. One minute they are saying deportation and you are going back to your country and people are coming to talk to you, but nothing is happening," she added.

Read more here: Ian O'Doherty: 'Nobody in their right mind wants Isil bride Smith back but - unfortunately for the taxpayer - we can't stop her'

Ms Smith has also expressed concerns over returning to Ireland as she fears her daughter will be seen as the child of a terrorist, but she would refuse to send her daughter back to Ireland alone.

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

"I don't want to be without my daughter. I love my daughter. What mother is going to give up her daughter like that?"

Ms Smith believes that people would soon forget about her if she ever returned to Ireland.

"Things die down. Then something else might happen in the world. Over time people forget about things. In a year, two years, people forget about things. New generations come, new life comes, new things happen and people forget," she added.

Reacting to the interview, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he wanted to see Ms Smith returned to Ireland but does not want to put Irish diplomats or military personnel at risk to make that happen.

Mr Varadkar was asked about her case by RTÉ Radio's Seán O'Rourke.

He said he couldn't comment on any military operations that had reportedly been rejected for bringing her home.

Mr Varadkar said Ms Smith is an Irish citizen who managed to get to Syria on her own without assistance.

He pointed out it's a "war zone" and said he doesn't want to put Irish diplomats or Defence Forces members at risk.

He also said there's a cost associated with returning Ms Smith and a lot of Irish people get into difficulty abroad and the military is not sent to bring them home.

However, Mr Varadkar also said that Ms Smith's two year old daughter is an Irish citizen and he said he would not want to separate the child from her mother.

He said "I do want her to come home" but also noted that the Gardaí will want to talk to Ms Smith.

RTÉ's full interview with Lisa Smith will air on Prime Time tonight at 9:35pm.

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