Belfast Telegraph

Islamic State sympathiser Lisa Smith arrested by gardai on suspicion of terrorist offences

  • Former member of Defences Forces arrested at Dublin Airport
  • Two-year-old daughter handed into the care of Ms Smith's family
  • Currently being held at a garda station in south Dublin for questioning
  • Justice Minister says all relevant State agencies involved in case
Lisa Smith covering her face with a pink blanket as she steps off Turkish Airlines flight 1975. Credit: Mark Condren
Lisa Smith covering her face with a pink blanket as she steps off Turkish Airlines flight 1975. Credit: Mark Condren

By Tom Brady and Gabija Gataveckaite

Islamic State sympathiser Lisa Smith has been arrested by Garda Special Branch officers after she stepped off a flight from Turkey at Dublin airport this morning.

Ms Smith and her two year old daughter were flown home from Istanbul on a Turkish Airlines flight, accompanied by Department of Foreign Affairs officials, members of the Army Ranger Wing and a Turkish security officer.

She met was met by the Special Branch officers at the bottom of the steps as she walked off the plane and immediately arrested.

Ms Smith was placed in a garda car without being taken into the airport terminal.

She was seen covering her head with a pink blanket as she disembarked the aircraft with her daughter.

The plane landed at Dublin Airport at 10.11am this morning.

Security was tight at the airport and the surrounding areas.

Detained: Lisa Smith
Detained: Lisa Smith

She was driven away to a garda car for questioning about suspected engagement in terrorist activities overseas.

She is now being detained in a city station under section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act and can be held without charge for up to three days.

Her daughter has been handed into the care of Ms Smith’s family from Dundalk, under the supervision of the child and family agency, Tusla.

Gardai have appealed for privacy for the little girl and the family and pointed out that they were not suspected of any wrongdoing.

The garda questioning of the former member of the Defence Forces, who went to Syria to join Islamic State, will form a key part of a lengthy investigation carried out over the past year by the Special Branch and military intelligence into Ms Smith’s recent background and her activities since she became interested in the activities of the terrorist group.

The investigation is focusing particularly on her movements since she travelled to Syria in 2015 and whether she remained as a sympathiser and supporter of the terrorists or became actively involved with them as a fighter.

Ms Smith and her daughter had been due to fly home yesterday but her return was delayed due to a minor technical hitch and she eventually boarded the first flight out of Istanbul for Dublin early this morning.

She arrived in Dublin airport after 10am, accompanied by three Foreign Affairs officials, two Ranger Wing members and the Turkish officer.

The Rangers were in place to look after the safety of Ms Smith and the child as they were being taken to the airport from the “safe” house where she had been detained in recent weeks.

Members of her family had been in regular contact with the Department of Foreign Affairs over the past few months and had made it clear they were ready to take responsibility for the care of the child while Ms Smith was in custody.

Ms Smith can be charged with a criminal offence for suspected engagement in terrorist activities overseas under the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Act 2005, if sufficient evidence is gathered to warrant a criminal prosecution.

In a statement this morning, gardai said: "Today, Sunday 1st December 2019, at Dublin Airport, An Garda Siochana has arrested an Irish Citizen (38 year old female) on suspicion of terrorist offences following her deportation from Turkey.

"She is currently being detained at a South Dublin Garda station under the provisions of Section 30 of the Offences against the State Act, 1939 as amended.

"A child, also an Irish Citizen, was in the company of the female and is now being cared for by relatives.

"An Garda Siochana is making no further comment and there is no Garda spokesperson available."

Lisa Smith with her daughter in the Al Hawl refugee camp on the Iraq-Syria border
Lisa Smith with her daughter in the Al Hawl refugee camp on the Iraq-Syria border

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan referred to the matter as a "sensitive case" and said all relevant State agencies are involved.

“A multi-agency network is in place here comprising agency personnel who engage on an ongoing basis with international colleagues regarding emerging practice in relation to the complex issue of radicalisation.  This network will coordinate engagement on a case by case basis as and when appropriate,” he said.

Irish Independent

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