05 Jul 2022

Dundalk woman Lisa Smith denied to gardai that she was obsessed with jihad

Special Criminal Court

Dundalk woman Lisa Smith denied to gardai that she was obsessed with jihad

Lisa Smith denied to gardai that she was obsessed with jihad

Lisa Smith, a former Irish soldier who denies membership of Islamic State, told gardai that she was not obsessed with jihad and described a prosecution witness as "dangerous" and a "selfish jihadi".

In a garda interview in December 2019 Ms Smith said that Carol Karimah Duffy, a witness for the prosecution, taught her things about Islam that were not true and had "messed" her mind. She said Ms Duffy told her about Osama bin Laden and Sharia law and talked about Islam being "spread by the sword". Ms Smith also told gardai that if she had extremist views in the past, she doesn't have them now.

Ms Smith called another prosecution witness, Tania Joya, a "liar". 

Ms Smith (39) from Dundalk, Co Louth has pleaded not (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.

Detective Garda Ciaran McGeough told prosecution counsel Sean Gillane SC that he interviewed Ms Smith over several days at Kevin Street Garda Station following her arrest on December 1, 2019. During the sixth interview gardai read to Ms Smith a statement made by Ms Duffy a week earlier. Ms Smith said Ms Duffy was "the one who messed my brain with Islam."

Ms Smith said she went from knowing nothing about Islam before meeting Ms Duffy to learning about Osama bin Laden, Sharia law and jihad. She said Ms Duffy was "dangerous" and a "selfish jihadi" who had told her that everything in Islam is "haram" or forbidden. She added: "She made me hate Islam at the beginning and I wanted to leave but I couldn't because I love god."

When Ms Smith met an American convert to Islam named John Georgelas, aka Abu Hassan, she said she learned the opposite of what Ms Duffy had taught her. When gardai referred to Ms Duffy's claim that Ms Smith was "obsessed" with jihad, Ms Smith said: "She was the one who taught me all about this, about Osama bin Laden and Sharia. How was I obsessed with that? I was only a brand new Muslim who had no knowledge of Islam."

She said Ms Duffy had taught her that Islam is "spread by the sword" and encouraged her to leave her job with the army because she said nationalism was forbidden. She denied that she has extremist views and said if she had extremist views before, she doesn't now, and added: "Having seen the extremism of the Islamic State I am not extremist any more. I'm the opposite, but she is extreme."

Ms Smith said extremists are people who say it is forbidden to listen to music or speak with men. There are other extremists who cut off people's heads, including journalists, and say they have to kill everyone who doesn't agree with them. Others don't allow their wives to go outside or to own a telephone.
She added: "I just want to go away and relax and stop talking with people. I just want to be left alone to pray and worship my god and be with my child." 

When Ms Tania Joya's statement was read out, Ms Smith denied being a jihadist. She also denied Ms Joya's claim that she wanted to become a martyr when she first went to Syria in 2013 with Ms Joya and Ms Joya's husband John Georgelas. She said her leg was injured at the time and so she would have been unable to fight and asked why, if she wanted to die a martyr, did she leave three months later with her husband. She said of Ms Joya: "She is a liar, she lied about many things." 

Gardai also asked Ms Smith about e18,000 she lodged into one of her bank accounts in February 2015. She said that she had received compensation of e25,000 following a car crash in 2005. She explained a series of withdrawals of e1,000 up to 18 September 2015 saying she paid for improvements to her family home and her flight to Turkey. She brought e8,000 with her but e7,000 was taken from her when she arrived in Syria. She said nobody told her to bring money with her and while in Syria she received food from the Islamic State or through Georgelas or her husband.

The trial continues in front of Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, with Judge Gerard Griffin and Judge Cormac Dunne at the non-jury court.

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