Wednesday 16 October 2019

Isil bride Lisa Smith to be investigated over terrorism

Lisa Smith. Photo: Tom Conachy
Lisa Smith. Photo: Tom Conachy
Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

Isil bride Lisa Smith is under investigation for terrorist offences, a senior garda has revealed.

Ms Smith (38) and her young daughter are currently detained in northern Syria, an area under attack by Turkey after the US earlier this week abandoned its Kurdish allies in the region.

The US move, the decision of President Donald Trump, has opened the door to the potential for thousands of extremist Isil prisoners who had been held by the Kurds to be freed.

Assistant Commissioner Michael O'Sullivan told 'RTÉ News' yesterday that Ms Smith is under investigation. She is likely to be questioned by officers here if she returns to these shores.

Kurdish fighters fire an anti-tank cannon at Isil forces near Mosul in Iraq in 2016
Kurdish fighters fire an anti-tank cannon at Isil forces near Mosul in Iraq in 2016

"Ms Smith is subject to criminal investigation, under the Criminal Justice Terrorist Offences Act 2005.

"That investigation is continuing.

"That investigation goes back to 2013. It will continue," he said.

Under the act, it is an offence to engage in a terrorist activity either within or outside the State.

READ MORE: 'I'm not a terrorist and not out to kill anyone' - Irish Isil bride

"She has said herself that she does not pose a threat, that she does not hold radical views.

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

"But like the others that have returned, that has to be part of an assessment," he said.

Mr O'Sullivan said there had been conflicting reports about whether she wanted to come back, but negotiations were continuing.

"My information is that there are extensive negotiations that have been ongoing.

"I know the complexities of the area. It's a difficult environment and there have been efforts, certainly at diplomatic level, but we are not involved."

He said they had been gathering evidence of terrorist offences and had channels open to them in relation to any offence that might have been committed abroad.

Five other Irish citizens who travelled to conflict zones have returned, he said. Gardaí are satisfied they pose no threat to the State.

Lisa Smith talks to the BBC
July 2019
Lisa Smith talks to the BBC July 2019

Ms Smith is currently in Ain Issa refugee camp in Syria, where she is being held following the collapse of the Isil caliphate.

Following their betrayal by the US, the Kurds, who operate the camp, have been forced to redeploy troops to the border to fight the Turkish invasion of northern Syria.

There have been reports that guards are now struggling to control the camp, with Islamist 'morality police' patrolling it.

According to reports, women in the camp have got hold of phones, and even knives and guns.

The guards, who numbered about 400 before this week's redeployment, admit privately the women have effectively taken over the day-to-day running of the camp.

They have been attempting to smuggle themselves out for months.

"We are standing strong for Allah, but God help us the situation here is bad," one woman wrote on one of their encrypted Telegram accounts that was seen by 'The Daily Telegraph'.

Ms Smith, who served in the Air Corps and worked on the Government jet, moved to Isil-controlled northern Syria shortly after her conversion to Islam.

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

In March this year, the Irish Independent revealed how the former member of the Defence Forces had been detained in Syria.

At the time Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said she would be allowed to return because it was the "compassionate thing" to do.

"Going to Syria or going to live in what was called Islamic State is not in itself an offence or a crime.

"So we will need to carry out an investigation," he said.

"I know the authorities there will want to interrogate her to see if she has been involved in any crimes there.

"But it's very possible that she wasn't a combatant," he added.

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

Irish Independent

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