Security services conducting risk assessments regarding return of IS supporter Lisa Smith

Security services conducting risk assessments regarding return of IS supporter Lisa Smith
Picture: ITV

Garda security services are conducting three risk assessments regarding the imminent return of Irish Islamic State supporter Lisa Smith.

Officers are also examining if they have the grounds to arrest the Dundalk woman if she refuses to voluntarily cooperate with gardaí when she lands home with her young daughter.

The Irish Examiner understands three risk assessments are being compiled: on the personal safety of Lisa Smith; the safety of her extended family; and the threat posed by Ms Smith to the security of the State.

Gardaí are thought to be particularly concerned if Ms Smith insists on going back to her family in Dundalk, fearing they might be at risk from hate crime or right-wing attacks.

“A lot is dependent on her attitude,” said one source, “whether she cooperates with gardaí and engages in debriefing or if she adopts her current attitude of saying 'I did nothing wrong, I happened to end out there and happened to end up being an ISIS wife'.”

Government and security officials are conscious of the possibility that Ms Smith may say in Turkey that she will cooperate, in order to get out, but that once she lands here may change her mind. Sources have stressed that unless gardaí decide to arrest her they have no power to detain her.

“Gardaí never want to arrest prematurely, before they want to and are ready to,” explained one source.

If she is arrested she can only be held for a certain length of time and be released, unless DPP orders charges.

An Garda Síochána has been appointed the lead agency to look after the security of Ms Smith and her two-year-old daughter on arrival. Tusla will also be involved in relation to the care and welfare of the child and could join garda colleagues at Dublin Airport, or whatever airport she arrives at.

Sources said it is possible the child might be taken to hospital on arrival for physical and medical checks and perhaps even psychological checks. The same may also be the case with Ms Smith.

Sources have stressed that the Security & Intelligence Section and the Special Detective Unit have people experienced with debriefing jihadists, particularly within the SDU's Counter-Terrorism International unit.

Meanwhile, the Tánaiste has said there are lots of questions about radicalisation to be answered when Lisa Smith returns to Ireland.

Simon Coveney confirmed the Government is in discussion with Turkey about the return of the Dundalk woman and her daughter.

"There are all sorts of questions around radicalisation, around questioning, around the role of An Garda Síochána if and when Lisa Smith comes home," said Mr Coveney.

"And they are questions that we have to deal with comprehensively across Government. In multiple different Government departments.

"But in particular the Department of Justice and in my department [Foreign Affairs] and we are working closely together to make sure that we do what is appropriate here."

In an interview with the Irish Examiner last month, Assistant Commissioner for Security and Intelligence Michael O'Sullivan said that five foreign fighters had returned home, had engaged with them and were subject to risk assessment.

“I'm happy to say they do not pose a threat to society or the State,” he said.

He confirmed that they have been conducting a criminal investigation into Ms Smith in relation to possible terrorist offences abroad and said they had been gathering evidence.

“We have avenues open to us where we can get evidence and how we can get that evidence and we are working closely with the DPP on how to put information we receive into evidence.”

He said he was confident of producing a “comprehensive file” for the DPP. He accepted the relevant legislation, the Criminal Justice Terrorist Offences Act 2005, is “untested” in relation to bringing charges for suspected offences carried out abroad.

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