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Isil bride Lisa Smith will be questioned by Turks before she is allowed to fly home

Army Rangers trained in close protection assisting operation to bring her and daughter Rakeya back to Ireland

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Safe house: Lisa Smith is being held on the Turkish/Syrian border. Photo: Tom Conachy

Safe house: Lisa Smith is being held on the Turkish/Syrian border. Photo: Tom Conachy

Safe house: Lisa Smith is being held on the Turkish/Syrian border. Photo: Tom Conachy

Isil bride Lisa Smith is expected to be questioned by Turkish authorities before she can be repatriated to Ireland with the help of special forces.

A highly trained team from the Army Ranger Wing (ARW) has been deployed in the past week to assist the operation which is being led by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Ms Smith and her daughter Rakeya are being held at a safe house on the Turkish/Syrian border by the Syrian National Army.

The militia is backed by Turkey, but security sources have said the country's own officials will want to question her when she arrives ahead of her return to Ireland.

This is expected to take place once she enters Turkey and before she will be allowed to continue her journey.

A two-man team from the ARW, who are highly trained in close protection duties, have been deployed to the region in the past week ahead of her expected return.

The Defence Forces personnel are there to act in an oversight capacity rather than engaging in any active operation.

"This isn't going to be a dawn-raid with a helicopter to pull them out, the (ARW) members are there purely in an oversight capacity," one source said.

It follows months of dialogue between various agencies led by the Irish ambassador to Jordan.

Gardaí have also confirmed in recent weeks that their investigation into Ms Smith is continuing.

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Assistant Garda Commissioner Michael O'Sullivan said Ms Smith was under investigation on suspicion of engaging in terrorist offences while in Syria.

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

"But like the others that have returned, that has to be part of an assessment," the senior garda added.

Ms Smith moved to Syria, via Tunisia, in 2015 shortly after leaving the Air Corps, where she worked as a flight attendant on the Government jet and as a driver to senior officers.

She also served for a time with the Army as part of the 27th Infantry Battalion.

The 2005 Act states legislation prohibiting membership of domestic terrorist groups such as the IRA also applies to foreign ­terrorist groups, even if their crimes do not take place on Irish soil.

Terrorism

The Department of Justice has previously stated that "by its nature and actions, Isis clearly qualifies as a 'terrorist group' involved in 'terrorist activity' or 'terrorist-linked activity', all as defined in section 4 of the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Act, 2005, by reference to the EU framework decision on combating terrorism".

The offence of membership of a terrorist group carries a maximum term of 10 years in prison.

Ms Smith had been held at the Ain Issa camp after being arrested by security forces, but escaped in recent weeks along with around 750 other people with links to the terror organisation.

In March, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said she should be allowed to return to Ireland because it is the "compassionate thing".

In a previous interview with 'The Mail On Sunday', Ms Smith denied having ever fought for Isil or holding extremist views.

"I'm not, like, out to kill anyone, I don't believe in suicide attacks," she said.

When asked if she had actively fought for Isil, she said: "No, I didn't do anything. I didn't even own a gun.

"My husband many times said to me, 'you want me to buy you one?' I said no."

A number of previous options for her return had been discussed in recent months, including through the city of Erbil in Iraq, but fears of her being arrested in the region led to that possibility being shelved.


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