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State's case Lisa Smith 'wanted Jihad' and was 'prepared to die' court told as her terror trial opens

The prosecutor said there would also be evidence that Ms Smith was added to a chat group in 2015 in which attacks by the Islamic State were discussed.

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Lisa Smith denies all charges (Niall Carson/PA)

Lisa Smith denies all charges (Niall Carson/PA)

Lisa Smith denies all charges (Niall Carson/PA)

Former soldier Lisa Smith "enveloped herself" in the black flag of the Islamic State and answered the terror organisation's call, the Special Criminal Court has been told.

The prosecution has also said that the accused "expressed a desire" to live under Sharia Law and had a willingness to die a martyr.

The trial of Lisa Smith for terror offences opened before the non-jury court this morning with the accused pleading not guilty to both charges.

Ms Smith (39) is charged with membership of an unlawful terrorist group, the Islamic State, between October 28, 2015, and December 1, 2019.

She is also accused of attempting 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.

Sean Gillane SC, prosecuting, outlined the State's case to the court saying that Ms Smith answered the call to migrate to the territory controlled by IS.

He said the accused was from Dundalk in Co Louth and joined the Defence Forces in 2001 at the age of 19.

The court heard during her career she converted to Islam and applied for a discharge from the military in November 2011.

This, Mr Gillane said, was because of perceived inconsistencies between work demands and her faith requirements, as well as the refusal of an application to allow her to wear a hijab.

The court was told that in September 2013 Lisa Smith travelled to Turkey with a man known as Abu Hassan.

This individual was an American national and Islamic convert who she conversed with online about topics including jihad for the previous two years.

The court heard that Abu Hassan's wife was also present in Turkey and that they all later travelled to Syria.

Ms Gillane said the court would hear that Lisa Smith expressed joy at being in Syria and that the view from people with her was that the accused "wanted Jihad" and was "prepared to die".

The prosecutor had earlier outlined the background of conflicts in the Middle East which led to IS announcing the reestablishment of a caliphate in June 2014 and pronouncing Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as its caliph.

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Ms Smith married a Tunisian man in December 2013, and returned to Ireland the following year.

Mr Gillane said that Abu Hassan was seriously injured in May 2015 and that the accused attempted to wire money to him via another man in Turkey, but that this was stopped by authorities.

The prosecutor said there would also be evidence that Ms Smith was added to a chat group in 2015 in which attacks by the Islamic State were discussed.

This, he said, included a video of five men being locked into a caged and killed by drowning.

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Lisa Smith, accused of terrorism offences, arrives at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

Lisa Smith, accused of terrorism offences, arrives at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

Lisa Smith, accused of terrorism offences, arrives at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

The court heard Lisa Smith wrote in the group in response to the video: "Okay now I understand why they were drowned. I didn't understand the other half of the story".

Ms Smith, the court heard, later returned to Syria via "broken travel" on October 1, 2015.

The three judges were also told that Ms Smith divorced her first husband, after he refused to come to Syria, and that she later married a UK national called Sajid Aslam in June 2016.

She stayed in the Syrian city of Raqqa, which had become the "de-facto capital" of IS, before moving to Maidan where she lived with Mr Aslam near the Iraq border. They had a daughter in June 2017.

Mr Gillane said the court would hear he carried out border patrol on behalf of IS, and that there would be evidence that Sajid Aslam also did a sniper course on Ms Smith's advice.

The non-jury court heard that by October 2017 Raqqa had fallen and that Ms Smith continued to move as IS lost territory. By March 2019 she was detained by Syrian forces and later repatriated to Ireland via Turkey on December 1, 2019. There would also be evidence of interviews with the FBI and a journalist.

The prosecutor said it is the State's case that Lisa Smith "specifically addressed, assessed and answered" the call to migrate to the territory controlled by IS.

The court was told there would be evidence that she expressed a desire to live under Sharia Law and a willingness to die a martyr.

He said it will be obvious that IS needed fighters, but the prosecution case is that it also needed all those who could give sustenance and vitality to the group in the achievements of its aims, and to answer the call of Al-Bagdadi.

Mr Gillane said the State's case is that Lisa Smith endeavoured to access IS controlled territory and sought out means by which this would be done.

He said the accused subscribed to the reciprocity of allegiance and protection, and in that sense "enveloped herself" in the black flag of IS.

The court was told she remained in the territory and married there, and that her movements "mirrored the retreatment of the group" from when it lost territory.

"Far from moving away or running away from them, she was running with them" Mr Gillane said.

The trial continues before the Special Criminal Court this afternoon.

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