UK

ISIS bride Lisa Smith wins right to enter UK

An Irish soldier who joined ISIS and fled to Syria to become the second wife of a British jihadi has today won a court case fighting her exclusion from the UK.

Lisa Smith, from County Louth, was a member of the Irish Defence Forces but converted to Islam following the breakdown of her marriage and flew to Syria to join ISIS. 

There, she allegedly became the second wife of British jihadist Sajid Aslam and had a child with him. She returned to Ireland in 2019 after being housed in a refugee camp. 

The 39-year-old was charged with membership of the ISIS terror group and funding terrorism last year. She denies the charges. 

In 2019, Smith was served with a notice by the Home Secretary to exclude her from the UK on the grounds of national security. 

Smith appealed against the decision to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) in London, arguing that she had close family connections to the North of Ireland and often travelled across the border for a variety of reasons.  

The SIAC today ruled in Smith’s favour and allowed her appeal.   

Lisa Smith – a female Irish soldier who joined ISIS – is pictured leaving Dublin District Court with her solicitor last year

Lisa Smith, from County Louth, (pictured before she converted to Islam) was charged with membership of an unlawful organisation under 2005 terror legislation

Lisa Smith, from County Louth, (pictured before she converted to Islam) was charged with membership of an unlawful organisation under 2005 terror legislation

Smith was a member of the Irish Defence Forces but converted to Islam following the breakdown of her marriage

Smith was a member of the Irish Defence Forces but converted to Islam following the breakdown of her marriage

She denies the allegations and is claiming that she went to live in the declared Islamic State just to learn teachings of the Quran

She denies the allegations and is claiming that she went to live in the declared Islamic State just to learn teachings of the Quran 

Smith was arrested at Dublin Airport in 2019 on suspicion of terrorist offences after returning from Turkey in November with her young daughter.

She had travelled to Syria a number of years ago after she converted to Islam.

The alleged member of Islamic State is also facing an additional charge of terrorist financing, the court heard today. 

This relates to an alleged offence within the Irish state in 2015 in the sum of 800 euros. She is currently on bail in Ireland ahead of a scheduled trial in the country’s Special Criminal Court next January. 

Smith had been the subject of a Home Office-issued exclusion order since December 2019. 

Smith’s father is originally from Belfast and her case against the Home Office hinged on whether she was entitled to enter the UK as a consequence of that fact.

Both sides in the case before the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) accepted that the UK had a legal right to exclude non-British citizens from EEA (European Economic Area) countries, including Ireland.

However, that right does not cover those of dual nationality and Smith’s legal team argued she was entitled to the rights of a dual national as a consequence of her father’s birthplace.

The case involved argument on the nationality rights conferred under the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and differences in how the law treats married and unmarried parents, given Smith’s father was not married to her mother when she was born.

In a written judgment today, the SIAC allowed Smith’s appeal against the exclusion order. It said the decision to exclude Smith was ‘discriminatory’.

A Home Office spokesperson said: ‘We are disappointed with this judgment and are considering our options for appeal.’

Darragh Mackin, her solicitor, said the ruling was ‘significant for the Good Friday Agreement.’  

The 39-year-old, who is a former member of the Irish Defence Forces

The 39-year-old, who is a former member of the Irish Defence Forces

Smith was arrested at Dublin Airport in 2019 (pictured) on suspicion of terrorist offences after returning from Turkey in November with her young daughter

Smith was arrested at Dublin Airport in 2019 (pictured) on suspicion of terrorist offences after returning from Turkey in November with her young daughter

Ms Smith's two-year-old daughter is being cared for by family in Ireland. Pictured is Smith during an ITV news interview

Ms Smith’s two-year-old daughter is being cared for by family in Ireland. Pictured is Smith during an ITV news interview

Mr Mackin said today: ‘Today’s ruling is hugely significant for the upholding of basic human rights principles which include the right to be free from discrimination. The decision to exclude our client was discriminatory and contrary to the basic principles underpinning the Good Friday Agreement.

‘As an Irish citizen who resides in a border town, it was always asserted that to restrict her from travelling across the border was unlawful and could not be stood over. 

‘We warmly welcome the Court’s determination today which will now reinstate our client’s basic rights to travel to the North of Ireland at her convenience.’

Smith denies the allegations against her and is claiming that she went to live in the declared Islamic State just to learn teachings of the Quran. 

Smith had been living with her two-year-old daughter in a Syrian refugee camp; she is being cared for by her family in Ireland. 

She has said the father of her child was a suspected member of IS who died in 2019.  

Ms Smith held a relatively lowly role in the Defence Forces but worked on the official Irish Government jet, accompanying former president Mary Robinson and then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern on journeys.


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