Ex-Irish soldier who fled to Syria jailed for 15 months for ISIS membership

22 July 2022, 14:23 | Updated: 22 July 2022, 15:23

Former Irish soldier was sentenced after being found guilty of ISIS membership
Former Irish soldier was sentenced after being found guilty of ISIS membership. Picture: Alamy

By Seán Hickey

A 40-year-old Irish woman has been sentenced to 15 months in prison for fleeing to Syria to join ISIS.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Lisa Smith, a former member of the Irish Defence Forces, was today sentenced to 15 months her membership of the terrorist group.

Ms Smith appeared in court on Friday morning after being found guilty of membership of the so-called Islamic State terror group in May.

The former soldier was due to be sentenced in early July but the court was adjourned until today.

The Special Criminal Court in Dublin found the former soldier guilty of membership of a terrorist organisation, but not guilty of financing terrorism.

Read more: Isis ‘Beatle’ Alexanda Kotey jailed for life for role in killing of hostages

Irish woman found guilty of IS membership arrives at court

Passing sentence on Friday, presiding judge Mr Justice Tony Hunt said Smith, from Co Louth, had "aligned herself" to a foreign terrorist organisation, which he described as "serious" for an Irish citizen.

He acknowledged that the evidence showed she had "followed rather than led", adding: "She may have been easily led but then displayed characteristics of resilience - the rejection of her family, travelling to Syria and remaining there to the bitter end."

Ms Smith was cleared of financing terrorism by the non-jury court of three judges in the same hearing, after she made an €800 payment to an injured ISIS fighter via a Western Union account.

The payment was deemed as a humanitarian or charitable payment rather than an attempt to finance the terror group.

Read more: Ex-pub landlord accused of sending Covid loans to fund Isis in Syria

The native of Dundalk became the first person in Ireland to be convicted of membership of a terrorist group operating outside the state.

The Presiding judge, Justice Tony Hunt said that Ms Smith's decision to travel to Syria in 2015 was her own and she was not pressured into the decision. He also dismissed any plea of naivety on the part of Ms Smith, given the ex-soldier had viewed ISIS materials online and was therefore particularly well informed about what her relocation to Syria would involve.

Ex-Irish soldier Lisa Smith arrives at court in Dublin

Under the Offences Against The State Act, Ms Smith faced eight years in prison and an unlimited fine.

The judge said he is satisfied that she is not likely to reoffend and that her focus is now on her daughter.

Describing the trial as "novel", he added: "There is no basis that she is a source of present danger."

He said the judges had accepted that life in the Syrian camps was "arduous" and the "equivalent" of being in prison, and that they had given a "substantial" discount off Smith's sentence because of this.

Ms Smith was arrested in Dublin airport in 2019 after arriving with her two-year-old daughter from a Syrian displacement camp.

The former soldier left the Irish Defence Forces in 2011 and later travelled to Syria, where she married a British man who took part in ISIS armed patrols in the country.

During her time in the Irish Defence Forces, Ms Smith had been in the company of Irish government ministers and then-Irish president Mary McAleese on the government jet.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Canada Gaza Strip Aid

Canada says it is working to deliver aid to the Gaza Strip as soon as possible

Mark Feehily announced he's temporarily stepping away from the band amid health struggles.

Westlife star Mark Feehily reveals he’s standing down from the band just days before US tour leaving fans devastated

The Duke of Sussex took legal action against the Home Office over a decision in 2020 to change the level of his personal security

Prince Harry faces £1m bill after losing High Court challenge over taxpayer funded police protection

Rishi Sunak has warned 'mob rule' is threatening to 'replace democratic rule'.

Rishi Sunak calls for end to ‘mob rule’ as he urges police chiefs to get tough on protesters


President Joe Biden declared ‘fit for duty’ after annual medical test

Thomas Kingston died aged 45.

Lady Gabriella Windsor's husband Thomas Kingston 'died at his parents' £3m country mansion'


Supreme Court to rule if Trump can be prosecuted in election interference case

Richard Lewis has died aged 76.

Curb Your Enthusiasm star Richard Lewis dies aged 76 after suffering heart attack

Obit Richard Lewis

Richard Lewis, humorously morose star of Curb Your Enthusiasm, dies aged 76

Robert Brown's lost his bid for parole.

BA pilot Robert Brown who bludgeoned wife to death with claw hammer loses bid for early prison release

Film Oscars-Guide

Everything you need to know about this year’s Oscars ceremony

It is understood that RedBird IMI is offering to help pay the £1.16 billion in debts that the current owners, the Barclay family, owe to Lloyds Bank.

Foreign governments must be banned from owning British newspapers, says former Tory cabinet minister

Creech was due to be taken to the execution chamber where he would be strapped down onto a medical table.

Death row execution abandoned after officials 'unable' to give lethal injection - with inmate's death warrant to expire

Mexico volcano

Flights cancelled as Mexico’s Popocatepetl volcano erupts

Lee Anderson

Police 'looking into hate speech complaint against Lee Anderson' after MP said Sadiq Khan was controlled by Islamists

New data suggests fewer children are starting their education school-ready.

‘Things are poorer than ever before’: Headteacher says as poll finds fewer kids starting education are school-ready