Lisa Smith sentenced to 15 months in jail for membership of Islamic State

Lisa Smith, a former Irish soldier, was sentenced to 15 months in prison after being found guilty of being a member of the Islamic State (IS) terror organization from Syria.

Lisa Smith,40, an ex-member of the Defense Forces, was found guilty in May of belonging to the IS terror group but was cleared of a related charge of funding terrorism following a nine-week trial at the Special Criminal Court.

Smith, a convert to Islam, went to Syria in 2015 after terrorist leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi called on Muslims to travel to the country.

The Co Louth woman had pleaded not guilty to charges of membership of IS and providing funds to benefit the group.

She was granted bail ahead of sentencing.

Smith, from Dundalk, was described in court earlier this month as an “extremely vulnerable person” who was “treated like a servant” by her late husband when in Syria.

The details emerged during a sentencing hearing on 11 July as her barrister argued that the former soldier should receive a suspended sentence.

During the hearing, barrister Michael O’Higgins SC argued that the state of Smith’s marriage to a man, who the prosecution has claimed was a member of IS while in Syria, is “a very relevant factor in mitigation”.

Mr O’Higgins said that conditions endured by Smith in a Syrian camp, combined with the strict bail conditions imposed on her for two-and-a-half years in Ireland, meant that a suspended sentence was warranted.

The court was informed that from February until mid-April, after fleeing Baghuz, Smith remained at the Al Hawl camp under a “undercurrent of fear,” with guards patrolling the area and “dogs let out at night.”

Her barrister argued that if those two arguments are not accepted, there should be a sentence on the “lower end”, particularly considering Smith’s child and “all of the very unusual circumstances”.

On May 30, Mr. Justice Tony Hunt read out the decision in the case.

She was cleared of the allegation of financing terrorism by Mr. Justice Hunt, one of the three judges who presided over the case, since it could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that her 2015 payment of €800 to a man was made with the express goal of aiding the IS organisation.

However, the judge declared that the prosecution has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that Smith joined IS when she crossed the border into Syria in October 2015.

He told the court that Smith’s online communications with various people showed that “her eyes were wide open” to the situation in the land to which she “fervently wished” to return.

Mr Justice Hunt said Smith pledged allegiance to the organisation which al-Baghdadi headed up and that she knew the organisation was unlawful, and that it was not conventional.

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