I may never return to Ireland, says ex-solider detained in Syria

A former Irish solider who went to live in Islamic State-controlled Syria has said she does not believe she will ever return to Ireland.

Lisa Smith, a 37-year-old originally from Co Louth, is detained in a refugee camp in Syria.

In an interview with RTE News, she denied giving weapons training to girls in Syria.

The former Defence Forces member, who converted to Islam and emigrated to Syria a number of years ago, again denied travelling to the country to fight with IS.

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In the interview with journalist Norma Costello, Ms Smith said she wants to return to Ireland but fears being made an example of.

“To be honest I don’t think I will be going back, ever,” she said. “That’s what I feel. That’s what I think.

“They could be trying to make an example of me because I’m Irish and I’m military and I’m a woman.

“To be honest I don’t know what’s going on. If it’s just the Irish Government or it’s Europe as a whole, because there’s a big delay on all the countries at the moment.”

She has a two-year-old daughter who she claims was born to a British father while living in IS territory, a man she says died earlier this year.

“Everyone is getting stressed and frustrated because they don’t know what’s happening to them,” she said.

“One minute they are saying deportation and you are going back to your country and people are coming to talk to you, but nothing is happening.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has already indicated that Ms Smith would be permitted to return to Ireland if she wished.

Leo Varadkar
Leo Varadkar

But he has said a security assessment would have to be carried out to make sure she is not a threat to anyone in Ireland.

Ms Smith also told RTE she does not understand what people mean when they suggest she has been motivated by “radical beliefs”.

“What is radical? I don’t understand clearly,” she said.

“Someone needs to explain it to me properly because I don’t understand what radical is. In terms of being a Muslim and wanting to live in a Muslim state, I don’t understand how that is radical.”

She again denied fighting for jihadist militants.

She said: “What did I do? I just joined the Islamic State and now I just become a monster. How?

“The British and the Irish fought for many years. If someone moved from England then what would they say about them? How am I a monster? I came here to Islamic State and I didn’t do anything.”

She added that she did not know whether the Irish people would believe her.

“It’s up to them. I’m telling you myself, I didn’t fight.”