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28 May 2022

Dundalk woman Lisa Smith travelled to Syria to be a student and to look after children, trial hears

Dundalk woman Lisa Smith travelled to Syria to be a student and to look after children, trial hears

Lisa Smith, a former Defence Forces member who denies membership of Islamic State, travelled to Turkey to become a student of a famous Islamic convert who wrote Isis propaganda, the Special Criminal Court has heard.

Michael O'Higgins SC, for Ms Smith's defence, read out a message exchange in 2013 between Ms Smith and an American Islamic scholar named John Georgelas who was living in Egypt at the time.

Mr O'Higgins said Mr Georgelas asked Ms Smith to travel to Egypt to study under him and said he would pay her to help his wife, Tania Joya, take care of their children.

Ms Smith replied: "I wouldn't dream of accepting any money for looking after your children. If I can get the benefit of your knowledge as your student that would be more than enough payment for me."

Georgelas left Egypt with his wife Tania Joya and arranged to meet Ms Smith in Turkey.

Ms Joya, giving evidence for a second day, told Mr O'Higgins that her husband was clever and manipulative and in 2013 was communicating with Ms Smith every day over the internet.

She said he was a respected scholar who could "overwhelm" people with his knowledge of scripture. She told Sean Gillane SC, for the prosecution, that Georgelas wrote for magazines Dabiq and Rumiyah that publish Isis propaganda.

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 (NOT) guilty to financing terrorism by sending €800 in assistance, via a Western Union money transfer, to a named man on May 6th, 2015.

Her trial is continuing in front of Mr Justice Tony Hunt, Judge Gerard Griffin and Judge Cormac Dunne at the three-judge, non-jury court.

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