Irish Islamic State supporter Lisa Smith and her daughter may not arrive back home until next week as Irish officials in Turkey conduct checks to confirm their identities, particularly that of her two-year-old girl, the Irish Examiner understands.
Turkey deported two IS militants on Monday, kick-starting the removal of up to 2,500 IS fighters and family members, mostly to European Union countries.
Government officials there said that 23 other people would be deported in the coming days, all of them European, including two Irish nationals.
It emerged earlier this month that a delegation from the Department of Foreign Affairs, along with members of the Defence Forces, had travelled to Turkey, where they joined officials in the Irish embassy there, to liaise with Turkish authorities on the repatriation of Ms Smith and her daughter.
It was reported that soldiers from the elite Army Ranger Wing are present, it is thought to respond to any scenario or conditions where Ms Smith and her daughter were kept “imploded” and had to be extracted urgently.
The Irish Examiner understands the delegation has been in discussions with Turkish authorities on conducting identity checks, particularly on Ms Smith’s daughter, Rakeya.
“The team is more focused on the daughter,” said one source. “We just can’t take at face value the girl is her daughter. That has to be confirmed.
“We are not expecting them this week — they have to verify the two of them — but that could change quickly.”
Ms Smith, who is a former member of the Irish Defence Forces, is thought to have left her home in Dundalk, Co Louth, for Syria in 2015.
She is said to have married British IS fighter Sajid Aslam and they had Rakeya.
Despite her military training and some claims to the contrary, Ms Smith has insisted she did not fight for IS.
It is not known what methods Irish officials are using to try and determine the identity of the girl, whether it is through documentation or DNA tests.
The Department of Foreign Affairs said: “We are aware of the case you refer to. In accordance with longstanding Departmental practice, we do not comment on ongoing consular cases.”
It is unclear how Ms Smith and her daughter would be flown home. It is also unclear what will happen to them on arrival and what agency or department will have responsibilities for them.
The Department of Justice and Gardaí referred queries to the Department of Foreign Affairs.
It is thought that security services here believe she may need to be housed in a secure location both for her and her daughter’s safety.
It is expected that physical and medical needs of her daughter and herself will be examined first on arrival.
Gardaí are not thought to have the power to detain her on arrival and most probably will only be able to speak to her if she agrees, unless they believe they have evidence to arrest her.
In an interview in the Irish Examiner last month, Garda Security and Intelligence boss, Assistant Commissioner Michael O’Sullivan, said they were preparing a file on Ms Smith for possible terrorist offences in Syria.
He admitted the relevant legislation, the Criminal Justice Terrorist Offences Act 2005, was “untested” on bringing charges for suspected offences carried out abroad. He said Ms Smith would be assessed in relation to any threat she might pose to the State here “if and when she returns”.