Thursday 17 October 2019

Hard choices await as world struggles with the legacy of Islamic State's evil


Editorial Comment

The Government is facing crises on many fronts but few of them are as morally complex as how the State should deal with the Irish ISIS bride Lisa Smith.

Ms Smith - a former member of the Irish defence forces - is currently living in a Syrian refugee camp with her two-year-old daughter following the collapse of Islamic State's murderous caliphate.

The Louth woman is pleading to be brought home to Ireland but it is something of an understatement to say that there is little public sympathy for her in her native land.

Though there are plenty of people who want to see Ms Smith brought home - to face justice in the Irish courts - there are many who say, publicly, that she should be left to her fate.

To be quite clear, legally that cannot happen and - unlike British teen runaway and ISIS bride Shamina Begum - she will not be stripped of her citizenship.

Citizenship can only be stripped if an individual has a second one, as a person cannot be made stateless. In Ms Begum's case it is thought that she also has Bangladeshi citizenship - though this is not certain - and, as such, UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid believed he had legal authority to revoke her passport.

Whatever uncertainty there is in the Begum case does not arise in the case of Ms Smith and her daughter who are Irish citizens and must be helped home.

What is still up for debate is just how that legally required help will manifest itself and what will happen when she is finally brought back to the Republic.

The general consensus appears to be that when Ms Smith arrives back in Ireland, she should be rigorously investigated and brought before the courts.

We will likely never know precisely what she did during her time with ISIS and the chances of finding witnesses who might be able to cast a light on her actions is extremely remote.

What we do know, thanks to Lisa Smith's own admissions, is that she willingly travelled to Syria to join ISIS, a group that at the time had been officially designated as a terrorist organisation by every EU member state, including Ireland.

Ms Smith, a trained soldier has claimed that she essentially ran with the crowd in the ISIS caliphate; that she never fought for ISIS and that she never owned or used a gun while in Syria.

It's unlikely we'll ever learn the truth but if Ms Smith wants to avoid jail she will have to provide a very convincing explanation as to why she doesn't pose a threat to the country.

There are also questions that need to be answered about her time working on the Irish Government jet and what she told ISIS about it.

It has been argued that Ms Smith was an air hostess and that she had no access to official secrets.

That is essentially true, but what she would have had is inside knowledge about the security arrangements for diplomatic passengers at several major international airports.

Security services across the world will want to be sure that such key information isn't now the hands of ISIS' murderous fanatics.

Enniscorthy Guardian