'Comprehensive' terror file due on Lisa Smith, says security chief

'Comprehensive' terror file due on Lisa Smith, says security chief
Picture: ITV

As gardaí prepare a file on Irish woman Lisa Smith for possible terrorist offences committed in Syria, it has emerged that 20 suspected jihadists have been arrested in Ireland since 2015.

Assistant Commissioner Michael O’Sullivan, the Garda security chief, said he was optimistic of bringing a “comprehensive file” in relation to suspected activities of Ms Smith, who, along with her daughter, is in a camp for family members of Islamic State (IS) fighters in Syria.

The head of Garda security and intelligence admitted Irish terror legislation was so far “untested” in bringing a prosecution for terrorist offences committed abroad.

In an interview with the Irish Examiner and RTÉ, Mr O’Sullivan said gardaí have been working “very closely” with the DPP on “how to put information we receive into evidence”.

Mr O’Sullivan said he was aware of the evolving security situation in Syria following the military action by Turkey in Kurdish controlled regions, where Ms Smith is being held.

He said diplomatic efforts have been taking place to extract the former Irish soldier and her daughter.

He said an assessment would be made on whether she posed a threat to the security of Ireland “if and when she returns”.

The senior garda said Ms Smith came to their attention first in late 2012 and said he did not believe she was radicalised here. He said she did not pose a threat when she was a member of the Defence Forces.

He also revealed that:

  • Twenty suspected jihadists had been arrested since 2015, five of them in relation to financing terrorism, and that six of the 20 had been convicted
  • An estimated 30 Irish people have travelled to war zones abroad, with 16 believed to have died and five returning home
  • Less than 50 individuals are being supervised for links to “Salafi jihadism”, but only a “handful” were under direct surveillance and none were suspected of planning an attack here
  • Three jihadists have been deported for being here illegally and posing a threat to the security of the State

Mr O’Sullivan said that the five foreign terrorist fighters that had returned had been assessed and “do not pose a threat to society”.

He said the threat level of a jihadist terror attack here remained at “moderate”, meaning it was possible but not likely, but that it was at the “lower end of moderate”, and they were “looking at lowering the threat level”.

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