The Hong Kong Telegraph - Irish ex-soldier was not IS member, says lawyer

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Irish ex-soldier was not IS member, says lawyer
Irish ex-soldier was not IS member, says lawyer

Irish ex-soldier was not IS member, says lawyer

The lawyer for an Irish ex-soldier accused of being a member of the so-called Islamic State group on Wednesday denied she was involved in terrorist activities, speaking on the final day of her trial.

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Lisa Smith, 40, from Dundalk, on Ireland's east coast, has pleaded not guilty to membership of an unlawful terrorist group between October 28, 2015 and December 1, 2019.

She has also denied funding terrorism by sending 800 euros ($900) to aid medical treatment for a Syrian man in Turkey.

As the nine-week trial wrapped up, defence lawyer Michael O'Higgins pushed back against arguments by experts that his client was a member of the Islamic State because she had moved to IS-controlled territory.

It was inaccurate to describe everyone who travelled to the hardline jihadists' self-styled caliphate as a "foreign fighter" regardless of what role they actually played, he argued.

The only act that "might at a stretch be argued as some form of assistance" was that Smith had kept a home for her husband, he added.

O'Higgins reminded the three judges at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin that Smith had told Irish police in interviews that she would "never join a group like that".

The court has been told that she was a member of the Irish Defence Forces from 2001 to 2011 but left after converting to Islam.

Prosecution lawyers allege she joined IS and moved to territory it controlled in October 2015, living in its capital Raqqa, and marrying a UK national involved with the group's armed patrols.

She returned to the Irish capital in 2019 after the fall of the extremists' last remaining stronghold and was arrested on arrival with her young daughter at Dublin airport on December 1.

In his closing arguments on Tuesday, Director of Public Prosecutions Sean Gillane said Smith's journey had not been a "lawful and wholesome" answer to a religious calling but an "ultimate act of allegiance".

Those who had travelled to Islamic State territory had provided the "life blood" of the organisation, he argued.

O'Higgins has indicated he may have further submissions to make as part of proceedings on April 7 that fall outside the trial proper. The panel of judges have not yet said when they intend to deliver their verdict.

Cases of this seriousness are tried in Ireland before what is known as a Special Criminal Court composed of three judges and no jury.