Belfast Telegraph

I don't believe I will return to Ireland, says ex-soldier Lisa Smith who joined Islamic State in Syria

Detained: Lisa Smith
Detained: Lisa Smith

By Cormac McQuinn

A former Irish solider who went to live in Islamic State-controlled Syria has said she does not believe she will ever return to Ireland.

Lisa Smith, a 37-year-old originally from Co Louth, is detained in a Syrian refugee camp.

The former member of the Irish Defence Forces has now said her decision to move to Islamic State (IS) "wasn't worth it".

She told RTE that what she believed in didn't materialise when she travelled to Syria four years ago.

The 37-year-old is currently in Ain Issa refugee camp, where she is being held following the collapse of the so-called Islamic State caliphate.

Ms Smith, who now has a two-year-old daughter, insisted she couldn't be blamed for the terrorism carried out by Islamic State, and also denied she was radicalised.

"What we believed; we actually thought it was going to be an Islamic state... and we would all be joined as one and be very happy, you know like. It didn't happen," Ms Smith said.

"It wasn't worth it. We failed," she said.

"I don't know what the people came here for: free money? To get married? Have four wives? I don't know what people came here for. I don't know why people gave up their lives around the world to come here and to go through this experience.

"I am so angry and confused as well. I just don't understand how the people failed so badly."

Ms Smith was speaking to RTE News in Syria.

She has been attempting to return to Ireland with her daughter since being detained at the Ain Issa refugee camp near the Turkish border. She added: "To be honest, I don't think I will be going back, ever."

Ms Smith reiterated that she didn't train anyone to fight and wasn't involved in any IS violence.

She added: "Whether they believe it or not, that's up to them. I'm telling you from myself I didn't fight. I just joined the Islamic State and now I become a monster? How? How am I a monster? I came here to the Islamic State and I didn't do anything.

"I do know there are other people here with really extreme and radical views. I don't even want to communicate with these people. I'm not like this. I just came here and now it didn't work out."

Ms Smith and her daughter recently moved from the al-Hawl camp near the Iraq border to Ain Issa when she was told she would stay there for two months before being deported.

"They lied to me. They said they were going to deport me and to get my stuff ready. I left everything. Then we came here and this is where they left us.

"Everyone is getting stressed and frustrated because they don't know what's happening to them. One minute they are saying deportation and you are going back to your country and people are coming to talk to you, but nothing is happening," she added.

Ms Smith has also expressed concerns over returning to Ireland as she fears her daughter will be seen as the child of a terrorist, but she would refuse to send her daughter back to Ireland alone.

It is understood her British-born husband and father of the child died earlier this year.

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