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Case latest Lisa Smith's husband took sniper course on her advice while he carried out IS patrols, court told

Ms Smith, of Dundalk in Co Louth, has pleaded not guilty to membership of an unlawful terrorist group, the Islamic State

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Lisa Smith, from Dundalk, Co Louth, arriving at the Special Criminal Court for the first day of her trial. Picture: Collins Courts

Lisa Smith, from Dundalk, Co Louth, arriving at the Special Criminal Court for the first day of her trial. Picture: Collins Courts

Lisa Smith, from Dundalk, Co Louth, arriving at the Special Criminal Court for the first day of her trial. Picture: Collins Courts

A prosecution barrister has told a non-jury court it will hear evidence that Lisa Smith's husband took a sniper course on her advice while he was carrying out border patrols for the Islamic State (IS).

This morning the State opened its case against the former soldier saying that she "enveloped herself" in the black flag of IS after answering its call.

Senior counsel Sean Gillane also said there would be evidence that the defendant expressed a willingness to become a martyr and was ​prepared to die.

Ms Smith, of Dundalk in Co Louth, has pleaded not guilty to membership of an unlawful terrorist group, the Islamic State, between October 28, 2015, and December 1, 2019.

The 39-year-old has also denied 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.

The Special Criminal Court on Tuesday heard that Lisa Smith joined the Defence Forces in 2001 and during her career converted to Islam before being discharged from the military in 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 heard that same year Ms Smith joined and later became an admin of a Facebook group called 'We Hear We Obey' in which topics including jihad, the caliphate, and travel to Syria were discussed.

The founder of this group was Abu Hassan, an American national and Islam convert. The court heard Ms Smith travelled to Turkey with Abu Hassan and his wife in September 2013, and they later spent a number of weeks in Syria.

Mr Gillane said there would be evidence that Lisa Smith expressed joy at being in Syria, that she "wanted jihad", and that she was "prepared to die".

In December 2013 she married a Tunisian man before returning to Ireland the following year.

The prosecution barrister had earlier given a detailed outline of the conflict in the Middle East which had led to IS re-establishing a caliphate in June 2014 and pronouncing Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as its caliph, or leader.

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

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Mr Gillane said there would also be evidence relating to an online chat group Ms Smith was a member of in which attacks by the Islamic State were discussed.

One video was shared of five men being locked into a cage and drowned with group members justifying the killings.

The court heard there would be evidence that in response to this Ms Smith wrote: "Okay now I understand why they were drowned. I didn't understand the other half of the story".

Lisa Smith paid for in cash and took a one-way flight from Dublin to Istanbul on October 1, 2015, before arriving in Syria via "broken travel".

The three judges were told that she changed the security settings on her phone upon arriving in IS-controlled Raqqa and stayed in a madaffa, or boarding house, for several months.

The court heard she implored her husband to travel to Syria, but that this was ​refused, and Ms Smith later divorced from him.

She later married UK national Sajid Aslam in June 2016 and they had a daughter 12 months later after moving to the town Maidan near the Iraq border.

The non-jury court was told it will hear evidence that Sajid Aslam carried out border patrols on behalf of IS, and that he also took part in a sniper course on Ms Smith's advice.

Mr Gillane said that by that October the "de-facto capital" of IS, Raqqa, had fallen and that Lisa Smith continued to move as IS lost territory.

In March 2019 she was detained by Syrian forces and repatriated to Ireland that December before being arrested by gardaí.

The court was told it is the State's case that Lisa Smith endeavoured to access IS controlled territory and sought out means by which this would be done.

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Lisa Smith leaving the Special Criminal Court

Lisa Smith leaving the Special Criminal Court

Lisa Smith leaving the Special Criminal Court

 

Mr Gillane said there is no duality or split between a "good Islamic State and a bad one", into which one might fall through happenstance or ill fortune.

He said that, while IS needed fighters, it also needed people who could give sustenance and vitality to the group in the achievements of its aims and to answer al-Baghdadi's call.

Mr Gillane 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 retrenchment 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.

A number of people were also called to give evidence, with Ms Smith's friend of 20 years Una McCartney the first witness on the stand.

She said that Ms Smith would go "hell for leather" with certain things but that they would then normally "fizzle out".

Ms McCartney said she believed this would be the case with her conversion to Islam.

The witness said it was her impression that Ms Smith needed help or counselling, that she had burnt bridges with friends, and was looking for belonging because she was isolated and vulnerable.

She also said Ms Smith's upbringing had been difficult due to her father who the witness described as a violent alcoholic.

The trial continues before the Special Criminal Court.

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