Lisa Smith to be questioned about suspected terrorist offences if she returns to Ireland
Dundalk woman Lisa Smith is the subject of a criminal investigation and will be questioned about suspected terrorist offences abroad if she returns to Ireland, Gardaí have revealed.
Assistant Commissioner Michael O’Sullivan, who is in charge of garda security and intelligence, told RTÉ News that officers have been gathering evidence and there are sufficient grounds for officers to carry out such a probe.
Mr O’Sullivan also said the 38-year-old mother of a young daughter, who is currently in a detention camp in Syria, can be prosecuted under existing legislation but that will be a matter for the Director of Public Prosecutions.
It is an offence under the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Act 2005 to engage in terrorist activity in or outside the state.
Ms Smith – a former member of the Defence Forces who served on the Government jet – is “a person of interest” and one of two Irish citizens under criminal investigation on suspicion of committing terrorist offences with ISIS.
The other is Alexandr Bekmirzaev who is also being detained in Syria.
The Assistant Commissioner said Lisa Smith first came to garda attention in 2012, and the investigation that is under way is retrospectively examining her activities, her movements in and out of the country and her associations at home and abroad from that time.
Michael O’ Sullivan insists there are avenues of investigation open to the gardaí and they are working closely with the prosecution service in relation to how they can put the information they receive into evidence. He says he believes they will bring “a comprehensive file” to the DPP.
He says the gardaí know that Lisa Smith converted in 2012 but that she made a choice to become a Muslim and was entitled to do so. However, he said he does not believe she was radicalised in Ireland and insists she did not pose a threat to Government ministers, officials and the state when she was in the Defence Forces and working on the Government jet.
He also said there are conflicting reports about whether she does or does not want to come home and there is concern within the Government and diplomatic community about her young daughter, an innocent child in “appalling circumstances”.
He said it is not the role of the gardaí to repatriate her. “It is true that we have sent people from National negotiators unit abroad in support of foreign affairs ” he said “where people were being kept against their will”.
However, he insisted this does not apply in the case of Lisa Smith because she voluntarily went abroad and there is no evidence she went against her will.
Negotiations he said are going on between Government departments and the gardaí are not a party to that but extensive negotiations are going on and there have been efforts at diplomatic levels.
The gardaí he says will have to assess if Lisa Smith poses a threat to the State if and when she returns to Ireland. She is under criminal investigation, but he points out that the law is untested for terrorist offences committed abroad and the decision will be with DPP. However, he says the gardaí are satisfied they can conduct a comprehensive investigation.