When Lisa Smith arrived back to Ireland from Syria in 2019, Gardaí had concerns for her safety due to comments on local media suggesting the Islamic convert “shouldn’t be back in the country,” the Special Criminal Court has heard.
Detective Garda James Kilgannon told Justin McQuade BL, for Ms Smith, on Tuesday that part of his duty when Ms Smith began living with her mother in Dundalk, Co Louth was to make sure she was safe. There were concerns, he said, because of comments on local news websites.
The witness said Ms Smith has “reintegrated reasonably well” and agreed with Mr McQuade that she has been accepted by the community in the housing estate where she lives, goes “out and about” and shops.
He said he speaks to the accused from time to time and finds her “very polite and easy to deal with”. He said she has adhered to all of her bail conditions, including a curfew and a requirement to sign on twice daily at a Garda station.
He described Ms Smith’s family as “decent people” who have shown the natural concern for Ms Smith that any family would and cooperated with gardaí before and since her return to Ireland.
The detective also revealed that Ms Smith’s family alerted him to three voice messages she left on her father’s phone and a number of texts she sent to her sister Laura while she was being held in the Ain Issa camp in Syria in mid-2019.
‘Tough and dangerous conditions’
Det Gda Kilgannon said the texts indicated that Ms Smith was in “tough and dangerous conditions” and that her husband had most likely been killed in the war.
In June 2019, the detective recorded a voice message from Ms Smith’s father’s phone in which the accused said she was in Ain Issa.
She said she had been told two months earlier that she would be deported, adding: “We are still here with no money or anything, and everything is expensive. I need money.” She said she was making the call “secretly” as the use of phones was not allowed.
In a second message, Ms Smith said a previous number she had sent to the family was from the “military who run this camp”. She said she would go to a bigger prison if caught using a phone and asked her father only to send texts when she said it was okay.
She added: “Don’t text to that phone or else I am in big trouble.”
In the third message, she said she was going to send a text from a number but warned he was not to text back. She asked him to let the Irish Government know she was in Ain Issa and to let her know what the Government was saying.
She added: “I don’t know what’s happening.”
Ms Smith remained at Ain Issa until December 2019 when she was flown back to Dublin Airport where she was arrested on suspicion of membership of Isis.
Ms Smith (39) from Dundalk, Co Louth has pleaded not guilty to membership of an unlawful terrorist group, Islamic State, between October 28th, 2015 and December 1st, 2019. She has also pleaded not guilty to financing terrorism by sending €800 in assistance, via a Western Union money transfer, to a named man on May 6th, 2015.
At the request of Ms Smith’s defence lawyers, the court has been watching footage of interviews Ms Smith gave to gardaí following her arrest. Transcripts of those interviews have already been read out in court.
The trial is continuing before Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, with Judge Gerard Griffin and Judge Cormac Dunne at the non-jury court.