Let’s all just make our peace with it now to save being shocked later: She’s going to get away with it.
After all, it’s happened to us all, hasn’t it? You’re a trained soldier who openly admires ISIS, and you head off on your own to the territory they control, after they call all for all Muslims to come and fight for their caliphate, and the next thing you know people are saying you joined ISIS.
Not so, says Lisa Smith’s solicitor, Darragh Mackin (who, as an aside, also represented Ibrahim Halawa):
“Smith’s solicitor Darragh Mackin said that the case against her is “inherently weak” and that he hoped matters are brought to a conclusion “as soon as possible”.
“I think it’s clear that she does not pledge allegiance to the terrorist organisation ISIS,” he said. “That was her case publicly.”
Smith had lived in Syria until Turkey’s recent incursion into the country. She had been captured by Kurdish forces in northeast Syria after Islamic State fighters lost control of their final stronghold.
She was being held with her two-year old daughter in the Al-Hawl displacement camp for the wives and children of Islamic State (IS) fighters.
She is entering a second day of questioning by gardaí at a Dublin garda station after her arrest on suspicion of terrorist offences.
Her solicitor Mackin said: “There’s absolutely no evidence that she’s been in any terrorist organisation or terrorist group.”
No evidence? Well look, we’re all entitled to a solicitor who will make the best possible case for us in our defence, so you can’t really get mad at Mackin for trying to do his job here. And in fairness, ISIS didn’t have, to our knowledge, membership forms where you signed up and paid a monthly direct debit, so it’s entirely possible there’ll be no – ahem – “smoking gun” in this case.
But let’s have a look at the timeline, courtesy of the Irish Independent from March of this year:
She studied the ‘Koran’ “nearly 24 hours a day” for several months, and formally converted in April 2011….
…..At the time she was hoping to find a “suitable husband”, and was already talking about resigning when her contract expired. It is now known that within a matter of months, she had travelled to Syria….
Certainly by 2015 she is believed to have been in Syria and is understood to have married a man there.
She is understood to have had connections with Isil but was thought to be a sympathiser rather than a fighter.
And from a separate piece in the same paper, by Maeve Sheehan:
“As she would later tell the ITV reporter from the detention camp in Syria, she was sucked in by the propaganda.”
Among the wives and families of the so-called fighters at the camp was a woman whom gardai now suspect is Lisa Smith.
She told the reporter she was British. But it was later noted that she spoke with an Irish accent.
She spoke both Arabic and English. She said she had converted to Islam seven years ago. She claimed she travelled to Syria alone, where she met and married her husband, a British man.
“You come, you see the propaganda, you want Islam, you want to come and live in Muslim country and environment. No music, no smoking, no fighting, no drinking, no prostitution… you want a clean life like this, that is what you want, but sometimes it is not like this.”
She said her husband died two months ago. She told the reporter she had just left Baghouz, the final patch of land held by Isil, with just a few bags and her son.
“How are the people in Baghouz now, that’s left behind, they’re tired. Morale is low I suppose. Some are strong, it’s like any rollercoaster of people. Some want to leave, some don’t. Some are hungry, some are not hungry. Some are tired, not tired.”
Is Isil over now, she replied: “Not over yet. Not over yet.”
That’s February 2019, by the way, just this year, where she’s quoted as saying that ISIL/ISIS is “not over yet”. Charitably, that could be taken to mean that she desired for ISIS to be “over”. Less charitably, it sounds like “ISIS, undefeated army”.
So really, this all hinges on whether someone who admits to having been an ISIS sympathiser, and who admits to having to gone to live with ISIS for a “clean life”, free of music and smoking and fighting and, well, Jews, Christians, Yazidis, and Shia Muslims, and who doesn’t think ISIS is “over”, can be said to have joined ISIS.
One way of thinking about it is to consider the hypothetical case of somebody who, in, say, 1942, travelled to Germany because they supported the Nazi Party, but didn’t ever join it. Imagine they took a house in German occupied Poland, married an SS officer, and called the Nazi way of life “a clean life”.
Would we say that such a person joined the Nazis? Yes, we would.
The second question, and where her solicitor is presumably going with this, is whether Smith participated in the crimes of ISIS, or merely cheered them on. There’s no evidence that she killed anyone, that’s true, but then it’s also true of lots and lots of terrorists. Imagine someone who knew what one of the 9/11 terrorists was going to do, and worked with them, and lived alongside them, and washed their clothes and cooked their food, and approved of their actions, and said not one word in condemnation, or to raise the alarm. Does that person bear responsibility for the actions of their colleagues on that Tuesday morning in 2001? Yes, they do.
Whether she, or her solicitor, admit it or not, Lisa Smith has blood-soaked hands. This is a family website, so we won’t list all the individual horrors committed in Lisa Smith’s name, but it’s worth remembering just one: according to a witness, ISIS killed children to harvest their organs and sell them on the black market. They used the money to fund their operations, and, of course, to pay their fighters.
She went to Syria to bathe in the blood, figuratively, of children. It’s entirely possible she’ll get away with it. And you, dear reader, will probably pay Darragh Mackin for getting her off.