Terrorist trial of alleged IS member Lisa Smith hears: “Buyer’s remorse is not a defense”

Prosecutors in the terrorist trial of alleged Islamic State (IS) member Lisa Smith have said that “buyer’s remorse is not a defense”.

Attorney General Sean Gillane has delivered his closing speech to the Special Criminal Court, in which he also said the defendant “understood exactly what she was doing” when she went into IS-controlled territory.

Ms Smith, 40, from Dundalk in Co Louth, is accused of being a member of the unlawful terrorist group between 28 October 2015 and 1 December 2019.

The former Defense Forces soldier is also accused of trying to fund terrorism by trying to get a named man €800 in support through a money transfer from Western Union benefiting the same terrorist organization on May 6, 2015. She denies both allegations.

This morning, Mr Gillane said IS is undoubtedly a terrorist organization under Irish law, engaged in a relentless campaign of orchestrated and theatrical violence.

The emergence of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi in 2010, when he took over leadership of the group, as well as the unrest in Syria at the time, were significant in the context of Ms Smith, who converted to Islam the following year.

There were also testimonies from convert Carol “Karimah” Duffy, who said that in 2012 Ms Smith tended to talk about a holy war of jihad, justifying suicide bombings and wanted a husband who would be a martyr.

Mr Gillane said the accused began conversing online with a “gallery of confederates” in 2013, including jihadists John Georgelas and Robert “Musa” Cerantonio, and Isa Kocoglu.

They talked about the exchange of IS literature, Georgelas’ desire to fight in the field and that Cerantonio was “on the run”.

Mr Gillane said it would be “indefensible to suggest she was simply naïve” about what was going on.

In response to a video showing a Jordanian pilot being burned in a cage, she wrote in a social media group in February 2015: “He dropped bombs on innocent Muslims”.

There have been further talks during which she has been exposed to videos of people drowning in cages and rockets being fired, with Mr Gillane saying she rationalized all of this before deciding to travel.

He said that al-Baghdadi’s restoration of the Caliphate in 2014 is also the context in which Ms Smith’s decision to travel and join ISIS needs to be assessed.

Mr Gillane added that she would not be prosecuted for her belief in Islam or a caliphate, but for joining a terrorist organization.

The exchange from their time in Syria also showed a “sheer determination on her part that refused to go”.

In a message in October 2015, she told her family: “I’m not coming back. I give bay’ah and now I’m staying.”

Mr. Gillane argued that this reference to bay’ah – taking an oath in Islamic terminology – was a “declaration of allegiance”.

He said Ms Smith specifically addressed, assessed, analyzed and eventually responded to the call to migrate to an IS-controlled location.

Ms Smith, he said, made efforts to gain access to IS territory, sought means to do so, made a reciprocal commitment, was and remained in IS territory.

The court was also told that her movements reflected the group’s retreat as she began losing territory before her arrest in Baghuz in 2019.

He said while it’s understandable if there’s an element of buyer’s remorse on their side, that’s not a defense.

Mr Gillane said she made all the decisions, she “understood exactly what she was doing” and the evidence compels the court to find her guilty on both counts.

In his closing speech, Michael O’Higgins SC, defending himself, said there was “endless speculation” that Georgelas was a member of ISIS, but in terms of hard evidence “it’s not there”.

He said his client came to court with no criminal record, had good character and cooperated with authorities at every step.

He said Ms Smith has not traveled to Syria to take part in fighting and that tens of thousands of people from around the world have traveled there.

There was also no evidence that she received housing, food parcels, internet, salary or marriage allowance for the trip there.

The lawyer told the court that Tanja Joya, Georgelas’ wife, who had traveled to Syria with Ms Smith in 2013, was a witness that the court could approach with some caution.

The defense will make its closing statement to the Special Criminal Court this afternoon.

https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/courts/terror-trial-of-alleged-is-member-lisa-smith-hears-buyers-remorse-is-not-a-defence-41499980.html Terrorist trial of alleged IS member Lisa Smith hears: “Buyer’s remorse is not a defense”

Fry Electronics Team

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