Former Irish soldier Lisa Smith convicted of ISIS membership

Smith, 40, was granted bail and sentencing hearing was set for July 11

Lisa Smith attends a hearing at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin. AFP
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

A former soldier in the Irish Defence Forces has been convicted of becoming a member of ISIS.

Lisa Smith was found guilty of being an ISIS member, but cleared on a second charge of helping to fund the organisation, a court in Dublin ruled.

Smith, 40, was granted bail by Justice Tony Hunt and a sentencing hearing was arranged for July 11.

Smith, from Dundalk, Co Louth, wiped away tears as the verdicts were read out by Mr Justice Hunt.

The judge said that it could not be ruled beyond reasonable doubt what Smith’s intention was when she sent an ISIS member €800 ($858) and that it was possibly for charitable or humanitarian reasons.

Mr Justice Hunt, at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin, said there was “sufficient ambiguity” as to the reasonable doubt and acquitted Smith of the charge.

Prosecutors detailed how Smith, who was a member of the Defence Forces from 2001 to 2011, travelled to ISIS controlled territory in 2015 after converting to Islam.

Prosecuting counsel Sean Gillane, in his closing speech after a nine-week trial, told the three-judge, non-jury court that the “element of buyer’s remorse” asserted was not a defence.

“Ms Smith is not being prosecuted for believing in Islam or following Islam, or for believing in a caliphate or a caliph,” Mr Gillane said.

“It’s important to resist any attempt to conflate the nomenclature, she is being prosecuted for joining a terrorist group.

“It is not a case of a simple or innocent act of travel or near presence at a place in an unfortunate point in time,” Mr Gillane added, saying that “buyer’s remorse” is not a defence.

“It is the case on the evidence that Ms Smith specifically addressed, assessed, analysed and ultimately answered the call to migrate to this place controlled by ISIS, and this is the 'Hijrah' referred to in the context of the case.”

In 2012, she went on pilgrimage to Makkah and expressed a desire on an Islamic Facebook page to live under Sharia and to die a martyr.

The court was told that she bought a one-way ticket from Dublin to Turkey, crossing the border into Syria and living in Raqqa, the capital of ISIS's self-proclaimed caliphate.

Michael O’Higgins, defence counsel for Smith, told the court that the evidence showed that his client had fully accepted before she travelled to Syria that there was “no prospect” of her fighting.

He said she believed she would go to Syria, marry, have an extended family and would continue to “survive and prosper in Islam, which would not require her to go back to Ireland with her tail between her legs”.

Updated: May 30, 2022, 12:16 PM