An Irish woman accused of being a member of ISIS says she wants to return home. Lisa Smith is a former Army soldier and Air Corps corporal who went to Syria five years ago and is currently detained in a refugee camp.
“I want to go home. I think the people here should realise all the people here are not terrorists,” Smith told a CNN reporter at the Al-Houl refugee camp controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces in northeast Syria.
Smith was asked whether she would be ready to go to jail in Ireland, and said, “I know theyd strip me of my passport and stuff and I wouldnt travel and Id be watched kinda. But prison, I dont know. Im already in prison.”
Smith has a two-year-old girl. She reportedly approached a CNN producer and told them she was “quite famous back home,” Irish state broadcaster RTÉ reports.
“Even if they put me in prison at home, its better than being here,” a Canadian citizen tells @JomanaCNN who gets rare access to #SDF-controlled camps where more than 1,000 foreign #ISIS fighters are stranded as their home countries seem reluctant to take them back. #Syriapic.twitter.com/FKxCXzUDp3
— Connect the World (@CNNConnect) March 24, 2019
Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar has said more information is needed about her case, but that removing her Irish citizenship is not compassionate or right. “Going to Syria or going to live in what was called Islamic State is not in itself an offence or a crime. So we will need to carry out an investigation,” he said. “I know the authorities there will want to interrogate her to see if she has been involved in any crimes there. But its very possible that she wasnt a combatant.”
It is unclear at this stage whether the former Irish Army soldier and Air Corps corporal fought for the terrorist group. She reportedly converted to Islam nearly eight years ago and later moved to Tunisia, living in Bizerte, a town popular with IS members, before travelling to Syria and marrying an British IS member who has since died.