On Thursday, a Washington judge ruled that an Alabama woman who joined Islamic State was not a US citizen. Hoda Muthana, who left Alabama in 2014, has admitted she “deeply regrets” her decision and wants to return to America with her son.
The ruling leaves the 25-year-old and her son in limbo in Syria. It is not necessary to have a vivid imagination to picture the circumstances facing Muthana, and hundreds more like her, including Irish Islamic State supporter Lisa Smith and her daughter Rakeya. Even if you think that these women are the architects of their own difficulties, you could hardly argue that these circumstances will do anything to encourage anyone to reject extremism, to embrace a live-and-let-live philosophy.
Some, of course, never will, but some may. The Washington ruling will be cheered by those who would leave these women and their children to fester in a desert camp, but that guarantees nothing but a new generation of Islamic State recruits, a sad reality underlined by the cyclical nature of terrorism on this island.
Lisa and Rakeya Smith are, as far as is known today, the only Irish citizens in that alive-but-dead trap. Ms Smith made a terrible error. However, and this is a fundamental, immutable truth, she and her daughter are Irish citizens and entitled to the kind of support that should show how very wrong Islamic State are. Any other response would be cruel and stupid, but it cannot be open-ended or without stiff conditions.