Irish court to sentence ex-soldier for joining Daesh in Syria

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(Photo: Envato Elements)
DUBLIN — Dublin's Special Criminal Court was expected to sentence former soldier Lisa Smith, who was found guilty of joining Daesh in Syria on Friday.اضافة اعلان

The 40-year-old mother of one from Dundalk on Ireland's east coast was convicted in May of belonging to the terror group between October 28, 2015 and December 1, 2019.

She faces a maximum sentence of eight years for terrorist organization membership. However, her lawyer said Smith's offense was at the lower end of the scale and has urged the judges to consider imposing a suspended sentence.

She was acquitted by three judges on a separate charge of financing terrorism by sending $900 to aid medical treatment for a Syrian man in Turkey.

During her nine-week trial, prosecutors outlined how Smith — who was a member of the Irish Defense Force from 2001 to 2011 — traveled to Daesh territory in 2015.

The court was told that she bought a one-way ticket from Dublin to Turkey, crossed the border into Syria, and lived in Raqqa, the capital of Daesh terror group.

The hardline extremists ruled over vast swathes of Syria and Iraq, attracting thousands of foreign fighters to their cause before the group's territorial defeat in the region.

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

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

During sentencing arguments, her lawyer Michael O'Higgins asked for her to be spared jail as she had already served a custodial sentence in Syrian camps.

He referred to Smith's acute psychological state after she was described in expert reports as "damaged" and "vulnerable," emphasizing the "appalling" conditions she had faced with her young child.  

The court was told that Smith was held in the notorious Al-Hawl and Ain Issa refugee camps in northern Syria while she waited to be sent home to Ireland.

O'Higgins explained how Daesh members in the camps imposed cruel punishments on other refugees, including, in some cases, setting their tents on fire and killing them.

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

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