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Friday 6 December 2019

Isil bride Smith to be repatriated as Turkey begins to send fighters home

Deportation: Lisa Smith from Co Louth has been held in a safe house near the Syrian border with Turkey in recent weeks. Photo: David Conachy
Deportation: Lisa Smith from Co Louth has been held in a safe house near the Syrian border with Turkey in recent weeks. Photo: David Conachy

Robin Schiller and Hugh O'Connell

Isil bride Lisa Smith is among a number of fighters Turkey has begun repatriating back to their home countries.

The former Air Corps member and her daughter (2) have been held at a safe house on the Syrian border with Turkey in recent weeks.

Personnel from the Army Ranger Wing were deployed to the area last month to assist with her repatriation in an oversight capacity.

Turkish officials yesterday announced that the legal proceedings for the deportation of "two Irish national terrorists caught in Syria were about to end and they would also be repatriated soon".

The Irish Independent understands Ms Smith is among those the Turkish government is planning to deport. However a well-placed source cautioned that nothing is imminent regarding her potential arrival back here.

There was no immediate confirmation on the identity of the second Irish national, whether it refers to her daughter, or another Irish citizen.

The Turkish Interior Ministry added that Isil fighters are being interrogated, a process that is 90pc complete, before they could be deported.

A US and a Danish Isil fighter were due to be expelled today while a number of German citizens are also due to be repatriated this week.

"Two more German national terrorists who had been captured in Syria will be deported...this week. In addition, the legal proceedings for the 11 French national terrorists who had been captured on the Syrian territories are in progress," a spokesman said.

"Turkey will extradite them no matter what."

A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs said "in accordance with longstanding departmental practice we do not comment on ongoing consular cases".

Last week, the Tánaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said: "We're working on it, we have assistance from Defence Forces personnel, with our team in the embassy in Turkey, and they're working with the Turkish authorities on this case, and I don't think it's helpful to speculate on the back of rumour."

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. Assistant Garda Commissioner Michael O'Sullivan said Ms Smith is 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."

Ms Smith moved to Syria 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.

Another Irish citizen being detained is Alexandr Ruzmatovich Bekmirzaev (45), originally from Belarus, who travelled to Syria in 2013.

Mr Bekmirzaev, who lived here for 13 years before going to Syria, was believed by Garda anti-terrorist officers and military intelligence to be a key member of a logistics support cell for Isil in Dublin.

Irish Independent

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