- ITV News/RTE News
- An Irish woman who married an ISIS fighter and moved to Syria was deported on Sunday and immediately arrested on suspicion of terrorist offenses.
- Lisa Smith, who left Ireland in 2015, was flown back on Turkish Airlines with her two-year-old daughter, who is now with family. Ireland said it is investigating Smith’s actions.
- Ireland’s commitment to taking back and investigating citizens that were involved with ISIS contrasts with other European countries.
- Ireland’s prime minister previously said Smith was Ireland’s responsibility to deal with.
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An Irish woman who married an ISIS fighter and moved to Syria was deported back to Ireland and immediately arrested in the Dublin airport on Sunday.
Lisa Smith, who used to be a member of the Irish Defence Forces – Ireland’s military – traveled to Syria in 2015 and lived in the so-called Islamic state, though it is not clear what, if anything, Smith may have done to support ISIS while she was there.
Smith has said that she said was not involved in fighting and did not train girls to fight, the BBC reported.
Smith arrived in Dublin after being deported by Turkey, where she has lived since she was captured by Turkish forces, The Irish Times reported.
She was flown home on Turkish Airlines flight 1975 from Istanbul alongside government officials and with her two-year-old daughter, Irish news website TheJournal.ie reported.
She was arrested on suspicion of terror offenses shortly after landing, while her daughter is being cared for by relatives and the state prepares a plan, according to The Journal.
A spokesperson for Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs said: “Of primary concern to the government in this case was the welfare of a young child who was caught in the middle of a war zone.”
Irish state broadcaster RTÉ shared footage of what it said was Smith being escorted from the plane after landing:
— RTÉ News (@rtenews) December 1, 2019
Ireland has broken with other countries in how it says it should deal with those involved in ISIS returning.
Ireland’s Taoiseach- its head of government – Leo Varadkar has long said that Ireland would take Smith back to face justice in the country and would not revoke her citizenship, saying that she was the country’s own responsibility to deal with.
He said in March that: “Ultimately this is an Irish citizen and we don’t believe that removing an Irish citizen’s citizenship from her or her family, rendering them stateless, would be either the right or compassionate thing to do.”
But he also previously said that Ireland needed to be sure that she “does not become a threat to life and limb in Ireland.”
In contrast, the UK government has revoked the citizenship of ISIS recruits like Shamima Begum, who fled the UK to join ISIS in 2015, when she was 15. A spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces confirmed that Begum’s baby died at a camp in northern Syria.
Other European countries, like France and Germany, have struggled to commit to a strategy to deal with their citizens that left to go and join the group.
And US President Donald Trump previously vowed to deny entry to a woman from Alabama who went to Syria to join ISIS four years ago.
Varadkar said on Friday, before Smith’s return: “It is a tricky situation. Ultimately the child is an Irish citizen and deserves to be protected in my view. Ultimately we need to protect our citizens.”
Smith is currently being detained in a police station and the Charlie Flanagan, Ireland’s justice minister, said criminal investigations are underway.
Turkey accuses Western countries of refusing to take responsibility for their own citizens who joined ISIS.