Former Irish soldier who joined ISIS is repatriated
▶ Lisa Smith’s toddler daughter, who was born in Syria, has Irish citizenship and is being cared for by relatives
A former member of the Irish military who joined ISIS in Syria arrived home yesterday after being deported by Turkey.
Lisa Smith, 38, and her twoyear-old daughter, who was born in Syria but is also an Irish citizen, were returned to Dublin after Ankara said it had captured 287 ISIS suspects who escaped from Kurdish detention during their offensive in Syria.
Ankara has begun deporting foreign nations linked to ISIS, and Turkey identified Ms Smith among those who escaped detention during the fighting.
Ms Smith travelled to Syria to join ISIS in 2015. Yesterday, she was interviewed by police on arrival in Ireland and arrested on suspicion of terrorist offences.
Police said Ms Smith’s daughter was being cared for by relatives, Irish state broadcaster RTE reported.
RTE said that Ms Smith and her daughter were taken to the back of the plane as it touched down in Dublin and disembarked under blankets from the back steps, separately from other passengers on board.
The pair were then taken from the gate in an unmarked police vehicle.
They were accompanied on the flight by three consular officials, members of the Army Ranger Wing of the Irish Defence Forces and a Turkish security official, RTE said.
Before she arrived in Dublin, Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar said Ms Smith’s daughter would be looked after. “Obviously when it comes to her daughter, she’s a child and she will be protected,” he said. “In relation to Lisa Smith, the Gardai [Irish police] are going to want to speak to her – they may be in a position to charge her and if they do, a prosecution may follow.”
Dublin has said for months it has a responsibility to bring Ms Smith back to Ireland after she became aligned to the militant group in Syria, and that its main concern was for the safe repatriation of her daughter.
She has said in interviews that she wished to return home.
Between 2000 and 2011, Ms Smith, from Dundalk in County Louth, served in the Irish army before being transferred to the air force, where she worked on the government jet.
Mr Varadkar had previously said that a security assessment would need to be carried out to ensure that she “does not become a threat to life and limb in Ireland”.
Her return came a day after ISIS claimed responsibility after a man killed two members of the public on London Bridge in an incident police said was a terrorist attack.
Turkey has accused its European allies of being too slow to take back citizens who travelled to the Middle East to join ISIS. Meanwhile, European countries are trying to speed up a plan to move thousands of militants out of Syrian prisons and into Iraq.
So far, Turkey has repatriated 10 German nationals, one US citizen and one British suspected fighter. Eleven detainees from France will be repatriated early this month, the Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said on Thursday.
Most European states have said ISIS suspects should be tried in the country where their crimes were committed. But experts express concern about achieving convictions in European states because of a lack of suitable laws and the patchy nature of evidence gathered from the battlefields.
Even if convictions are secured for former ISIS members and supporters, experts also say sentences may be short, again because of the nature of the existing European laws surrounding joining foreign terrorist groups.