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Case latest Isis accused Lisa Smith 'wanted to help rebels and die a martyr', court hears

This morning Tania Joya, who was radicalised after the 9/11 terror attacks, said the accused was 'happy' and 'excited' to be in Syria

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Lisa Smith at the Special Criminal Court on Thursday. Photo: Collins

Lisa Smith at the Special Criminal Court on Thursday. Photo: Collins

Lisa Smith at the Special Criminal Court on Thursday. Photo: Collins

A woman who travelled to Syria with Lisa Smith has told the Special Criminal Court that the former soldier wanted to "help the rebels" and "die a martyr".

This morning Tania Joya, who was radicalised after the 9/11 terror attacks, said the accused was "happy" and "excited" to be in Syria during the country's civil war in 2013.

The witness also told the non-jury court in Dublin that Lisa Smith blocked her on Facebook when she threatened to report the defendant to the FBI.

Ms Smith (39), with an address in Dundalk, Co Louth, is on trial charged with membership of an unlawful terrorist group, the Islamic State (IS), between October 28, 2015, and December 1, 2019.

She is also accused of trying to finance terrorism by attempting to provide €800 in assistance, via a Western Union money transfer, to a named man on May 6, 2015, for the benefit of the same terror organisation.

The defendant has pleaded not guilty to both charges.

It is the State's case that, while Lisa Smith did not take part in combat, she emigrated to IS in an act of allegiance to provide sustenance and vitality to the terror group.

The prosecution says that this act of hegira is the life blood of IS and something it cannot live without.

This morning Tania Joya gave evidence of conversing with Lisa Smith online before they travelled to Syria.

The witness outlined how she was raised as a Muslim in north-west London and became radicalised after the 9/11 terror attacks when she was aged 18.

In 2002 she met an American man online called John Georgelas- also known as Abu Hassan- and they married four months later.

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Ms Joya told Sean Gillane SC, prosecuting, that her husband had also been radicalised after the 2001 terror attacks.

The court heard that they moved to Damascus before later living during different periods in London and Texas.

John Georgelas also served a jail term in the US after conversing with an undercover FBI agent online about Jihadism. Ms Joya said she became less religious during her husband's incarceration and later de-radicalised.

The witness said they moved to Egypt in 2011 where her husband set up a Facebook group called 'We Hear We Obey' in which members discussed the caliphate.

They began conversing with Lisa Smith online and in late August 2013 they travelled to Istanbul.

Ms Smith joined them in the Turkish city some days later, the court heard.

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Lisa Smith at the Special Criminal Court on Thursday. Photo: Collins

Lisa Smith at the Special Criminal Court on Thursday. Photo: Collins

Lisa Smith at the Special Criminal Court on Thursday. Photo: Collins

Tania Joya said Lisa Smith was "respected" because of her army training, as well as her knowledge of war planes.

She also said the accused wanted to go to Syria to "help the rebels" who were fighting a civil war in the country.

This, she said, was prior to any caliphate being established.

Ms Joya, her husband, their three children and the accused later travelled to Syria by bus. She said Ms Smith was "excited" and "happy" to be there.

"She was planning to die there to be a martyr,” the witness said, adding that she herself did not want to go to a warzone with her children.

While in Syria they met a Tunisian fighter called Ahmed who Ms Smith expressed an interest in marrying.

"I didn't like that Lisa wanted to marry Ahmed. It was bats*** crazy", she said.

She added that they couldn't converse in the same language and didn't know each other. The two later married in Syria, the court heard.

Ms Joya said that she wanted to leave the country with her children and informed John Georgelas that she was going to report him to the FBI.

The court heard that, when she told Lisa Smith that she would also report her to the authorities, the accused blocked Tania Joya on Facebook.

She later returned to the United States with her children.

The trial continues before the Special Criminal Court.

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