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Religious fervour Lisa Smith ‘interested in more harsh side of Islam’ – childhood friend tells trial

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.

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

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

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

A childhood friend of Lisa Smith's family has said the alleged Islamic State member expressed interest in polygamy and marrying a martyr after converting to Islam.

Carol Karimah Duffy this morning told the Special Criminal Court that the accused was interested in the "more harsh" and political side of the religion when she attended her mosque in Dundalk.

The witness also told the non-jury court in Dublin that Ms Smith began conversing with an American man online in 2010 and became "withdrawn."

The accused, with an address in Dundalk in Co Louth, has pleaded not guilty to membership of an unlawful terrorist group, the Islamic State (IS), 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.

It is the State's case that, while Lisa Smith did not take part in combat, she emigrated to the Islamic State 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 one that it cannot live without.

Giving evidence today Carol Karimah Duffy said she grew up in Dundalk and knew the Smith family. She converted to Islam in or around the year 2000.

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Lisa Smith, accused of terrorism offences, arrives at the at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin. vNiall Carson/PA Wire

Lisa Smith, accused of terrorism offences, arrives at the at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin. vNiall Carson/PA Wire

Lisa Smith, accused of terrorism offences, arrives at the at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin. vNiall Carson/PA Wire

She told Sean Gillane SC, prosecuting, that in 2010 she became aware that Lisa Smith expressed interest in converting to Islam and was "surprised" by this.

Ms Duffy recalled explaining the life changes involved to the accused, including giving up family events and the "awful abuse" she received on the street at the time.

The three judges were told Lisa Smith, a former member of the Defence Forces, was "completely fine" with this and that things developed "very quickly."

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At the time the witness was teaching classes at the mosque in Dundalk and when Ms Smith joined the other women "didn't take well to her".

Ms Duffy said the accused was interested in the political and "more harsh" end of Islam, as well as polygamy, and spoke a lot about a Jihad or holy war.

The court heard there were also general discussions about suicide bombings and "justifying" these attacks.

Ms Duffy said the accused also spoke about wanting a husband who was a shaheed - a martyr of Islam- and expressed a desire to get married within a month of converting.

Carol Duffy said Ms Smith married in late 2010 but that this relationship did not last long, saying the accused believed her husband "wasn't religious enough."

The two women had lived together at the time, and Ms Duffy said that the defendant began talking to people online and became withdrawn. This included an American man.

She said eventually she "couldn't listen to her" and that after Lisa Smith moved out, she broke off contact with her.

The witness will continue giving evidence this afternoon.

Earlier this morning, Sheikh Hussein Halawa gave evidence that IS "had nothing to do with Islam" because of their interpretation of the religion, it being superficial, and the violence it used to impose its ideology on others.

The court previously heard Ms Smith had attended the Islamic Cultural Centre of Islam where Mr Halawa is an Imam.

He said people from all over the world had travelled to the IS after being promised security and safety.

Mr Halawa also agreed that his son - Ibrahim - had travelled to Egypt and been locked up there for over four years before being declared innocent.

The witness agreed that the case got attention from Irish politicians and that his son would have spent longer in jail if this wasn't the case.

The trial continues before the Special Criminal Court this afternoon.

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