The prospect of Garda security services having to arrest Irish Islamic State supporter Lisa Smith as soon as she steps off a plane from Turkey looks to have receded, after the family indicated she was “willing to talk to anyone to clear her name”.
While counter-terrorism officers were hoping the Dundalk woman would agree to talk to them voluntarily, they were preparing for the possibility of having to arrest her in order to question her about suspected terrorist offences committed abroad.
A Department of Foreign Affairs team has been in discussions with Turkish officials regarding the repatriation of Ms Smith and her two-year-old child, which involves a formal process of identifying them.
Turkey began a programme on Monday of either forcefully deporting IS foreign fighters and family members or, where host countries agree to take them back, repatriating them.
Earlier this week, sources had indicated to the Irish Examiner that the actions of Garda security officers depended on her attitude and whether or not she intended to voluntarily cooperate with detectives on arrival.
Independent Deputy for Louth Peter Fitzpatrick said he had been approached by the family of Ms Smith who had told him that their daughter was “willing to talk to anyone to clear her name”.
He told local radio station LMFM:
“The mother has said that Lisa will, if and when she comes home, she will be investigated by the garda and they’ve no problem whatsoever with that.
“The family do believe that Lisa is innocent of the charges and, as far as I know, she has no problem whatsoever of being investigated.”
Ms Smith was a member of the Defence Forces when she converted to Islam. After leaving the Defence Forces, she travelled to Syria in 2015 following the break-up of her first marriage.
In Syria, she married British IS fighter Sajid Aslam and they had a daughter.
Despite her military training, she claims not to have fought for IS.
Mr Fitzpatrick told LMFM that Ms Smith had remarried again in Syria because a woman could not live on her own “in that country”.
He said Ms Smith’s mother told him that they were concerned about their granddaughter and wanted to look after the child “until everything is cleared up”.
He said that Ms Smith has been in contact with her family over the last number of weeks through a friend’s home.
“She asked the family please ‘can you get me home’,” he said.
Mr Fitzpatrick added:
The Garda Counter-Terrorism International section of the Special Detective Unit has been conducting a criminal investigation into Ms Smith for suspected terrorist offences committed abroad.
The head of Garda Security & Intelligence, Assistant Commissioner Michael O’Sullivan, has said they intend to send a “comprehensive file” on the matter to the DPP.
Evidence they have gathered will be put to Ms Smith for her responses and that will form a key part of the file.
As reported in the Irish Examiner on Tuesday, gardaí have expressed concern at the prospect of Ms Smith returning to the family home in Dundalk, both for her own safety and her daughter, but also of her family.