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Irish ex-soldier sentenced to 15 months in prison for joining ISIS in Syria

#Irish #exsoldier #sentenced #months #prison #joining #ISIS #Syria

The Dublin Special Criminal Court on Friday sentenced former soldier Lisa Smith to 15 months in prison for joining the so-called Islamic State group (IS) in Syria.

Judge Tony Hunt said the 40-year-old mother-of-one from Dundalk on Ireland’s east coast was at low risk of recidivism.

But he said Smith, a Muslim convert, went to Syria with “open eyes” and showed no remorse for her actions.

Smith, who appeared in court wearing a black headscarf, was convicted in May of membership in the banned terrorist group between 2015 and 2019.

She is the first person to be convicted in an Irish court of an Islamist terrorist offense committed abroad.

Smith could have faced a maximum sentence of eight years for membership of a prohibited terrorist organization.

Judge Hunt denied her attorney’s request for a suspended sentence, but followed his request for a prison sentence at the lower end of the scale.

Her lawyers have asked the court to allow Smith to be released on bail pending an appeal.

Smith was acquitted of a separate terrorist financing charge by three judges by sending 800 euros ($810) to help a Syrian man get medical treatment in Turkey.

During her nine-week trial, prosecutors outlined how Smith – who was a member of the Irish Defense Forces from 2001 to 2011 – had traveled to IS territory after converting to Islam in 2015.

In 2012, she made a pilgrimage to the Muslim holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia and expressed her desire to live under Sharia law and die a martyr on an Islamic Facebook page.

The court was told she bought a one-way ticket from Dublin to Turkey, crossed the border into Syria and lived in Raqa, the capital of the self-proclaimed IS caliphate.

– ‘dreadful’ –

At the time, hardline Islamists ruled much of Syria and Iraq, attracting thousands of foreign fighters to their cause before the group’s territorial defeat in the region.

As ISIS lost ground on the battlefield to a US-led coalition and cities fell under its rule, Smith was forced to flee Raqa and then Baghouz, their last remaining stronghold, before returning to Ireland.

She was arrested on December 1, 2019 upon arrival at Dublin Airport with her young daughter.

Her lawyer Michael O’Higgins asked during the sentencing hearing that she be spared jail as she had already served a sentence in Syrian camps.

He cited Smith’s acute mental state after expert reports described her as “damaged” and “vulnerable” and underscored the “appalling” conditions she endured with her young child.

The court heard Smith was being held in the notorious Al-Hawl and Ain Issa refugee camps in northern Syria while she awaited being deported back to Ireland.

O’Higgins explained how IS members in the camps cruelly punish other refugees, including in some cases setting their tents on fire, killing them.

The defense attorney also asked the court to consider that Smith has been living with a 13-hour daily curfew since 2019 as part of her bail conditions.

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#Irish #exsoldier #sentenced #months #prison #joining #ISIS #Syria

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