Europe

Ireland to charge ex-Defence Forces member Lisa Smith with joining ISIS

Irish police said they would charge a former member of the armed services, Lisa Smith, with terrorism offenses for traveling to join Islamic State in Syria.

Smith will appear in a Dublin court later on Wednesday, December 4.

A Dublin court on Wednesday, December 4 charged Smith with terrorist activity under the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Act of 2005. She was refused bail and remanded into custody.
The law was designed to prosecute members of Irish republican groups but amended in 2005 to include membership in foreign terrorist organizations, and Smith is the first person in Ireland to be prosecuted under the expanded legislation.

Smith, 38, was arrested by members of An Garda Síochána, Ireland’s national police force, after arriving at Dublin airport on a flight from Turkey on Sunday. She had been held in Ain Issa camp in northeast Syria before it was attacked in October after Turkey launched an incursion into the region.

Her two-year-old daughter is with relatives, according to the police and a spokesperson for the family, Peter Fitzpatrick, a Teachta Dála, member of the Irish parliament, for Smith’s constituency of Louth.

A former member of the Defence Forces, Smith denies taking part in violence during her time with ISIS. Her solicitor Darragh Mackin sought on Monday to distinguish between Smith’s traveling to live in ISIS-held territory with direct involvement in the terrorist group’s activities there.

“It is not an offence in itself to travel for innocent purposes. Lisa has consistently denied and refuted any allegation that she was involved in terrorist activity or terrorism general,” the Irish Times quotes Mackin as saying.

Smith, who is from Dundalk, served in the Irish Army and Air Corps until she converted to Islam and left the Defence Forces in 2011. She left Ireland for Syria 2015 and married a British ISIS fighter. Smith and her daughter were among thousands of ISIS family members who fled Baghuz in March ahead of the end of the ground war against ISIS. The Irish Sun reported last month that Smith first traveled to Syria as early as 2013, briefly lived in Tunisia with an ISIS fighter who she married, and returned to Ireland in 2014 before leaving again for ISIS territory.

Around 50 people with Irish passports joined ISIS in Iraq and Syria, according to the Department of Justice, and most are believed to have been killed. A second Irish citizen, Alexandr Ruzmatovich Bekmirzaev, was captured by the Syrian Democratic Forces in Syria last year and it was later reported that he was on a Garda terrorism watchlist. As of March, Bekmirzaev’s citizenship is under review, with police investigating whether he lied on his application.

Although some countries, mostly in Eastern Europe, have repatriated the orphaned children of ISIS adherents from camps in Syria, most have been reluctant to take back of their citizens, especially adults accused of joining the group. Others have stripped ISIS suspects of their citizenship under new anti-terror laws. Last month Turkey began deporting “foreign terrorist fighters,” including more than 20 Europeans and an American.

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