caliphate | 

Lawyers for ISIS member Lisa Smith say her time in custody in Syria should reduce potential jail time here

Outlining her background, Smith's lawyer described a report into her upbringing as "raw" and that she exhibited "destructive behaviour" in her childhood
Lisa Smith. Photo: Collins

Lisa Smith. Photo: Collins


Lawyers for convicted ISIS member Lisa Smith have argued that her time spent in custody in Syria should offset any potential jail term here.

The former Irish soldier travelled there in 2015 to join the terror group's caliphate and supported it while it waged a bloody campaign.

Smith (40), with an address in Dundalk, Co Louth, was given bail after being found guilty in May and appeared before the Special Criminal Court in Dublin this morning for her sentencing hearing.

Her solicitor Michael O'Higgins SC made a number of submissions including that his client should be given a suspended sentence.

If the court disagreed, he said, the case could then be made that any custodial sentence imposed has already been served over several months following her capture in Syria in 2019.

Mr O'Higgins said that time spent in the "extremely frightening" Ain Issa or Al-Hawl camps should be offset against any potential jail time here.

He also submitted that his client was under effective house arrest while awaiting trial due to a 13-hour curfew and this should be taken into account.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, said that they had to consider the arguments and adjourned sentencing to July 22.

A psychological report submitted by the defence said that Lisa Smith found this curfew difficult which was "somewhat to do with her paranoia" arising from people staring at her, and the "perception she's being judged all the time" including on a micro-level.

Outlining her background, Mr O'Higgins described a report into her upbringing as "raw" and that she exhibited "destructive behaviour" in her childhood which later led to a mental health crisis.

She joined the Irish army for money, a pension and security, and settled in their feeling she had no choice but to stay.

By the age of 26 she again began expressing suicidal thoughts and spoke to a counsellor away from her hometown as she wanted to keep it hidden.

Mr O'Higgins said his client is a "very damaged person, a very vulnerable person" who came to Islam through interactions with people on the internet and saw it as an "attractive proposal".

The court was also told that Lisa Smith always attracted "bad relationships".

She broke down as her barrister detailed the violent abuse she suffered at the hands of her ISIS fighter husband while living in the terror groups' territory.

She was beaten "black and blue", suffered black eyes, damage to her nose, and would be dragged across their home by the hair.

The court heard her husband Sajid Aslam would restrict her food as punishment at times, and on other occasions would force feed her telling her: "Eat f****** eat" while banging her finger on the table.

She recalled being treated like a "naughty child" and told the psychologist "he battered me to a pulp".

Dr Anne Speckhard, of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism, also interviewed Lisa Smith on a number of occasions following her capture including earlier this month.

Smith said that living in an Islamic State, when you walk the streets "nobody screams at you you're a terrorist".

In a report handed in to the court, Smith also told the expert that she "wouldn't be in a hurry to run back to any Islamic State", and that her life was "handed over" to chief ISIS propagandist John Georgelas.

It was the State's case that she made hijrah, or emigrated, to ISIS territory in 2015 to support the group after it established a caliphate.

While the prosecution didn't allege that she was involved in combat, senior counsel Sean Gillane said she "enveloped herself in the black flag" of ISIS by providing it sustenance and vitality.

Smith had travelled to Syria after years of conversing online with American convert Georgelas and later married Sajid Aslam.

The three judges found there was no doubt that Lisa Smith was a member of ISIS and that the prosecution had made its case on the evidence presented.

In relation to the second charge, the non-jury court said there was "no doubt" that at the time of the attempted money transfer the intended recipient, John Georgelas, was a member of ISIS involved in propaganda and fighting.

However, he added it could not be ruled out beyond a reasonable doubt that the intention of the €800 was charitable or for humanitarian reasons, instead of financing terrorism.

She was remanded on continuing bail ahead of sentencing on July 22.

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