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Homepage / Outside MAN / Lisa Smith among detainees to be deported from Islamic State
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Outside MAN

Lisa Smith among detainees to be deported from Islamic State

The former Air Corps member and her two-year-old daughter have been held at a safe house on the Syrian border with Turkey in recent weeks.

Specially trained personnel from the Army Ranger Wing (ARW) were deployed to the area late last month to assist with her repatriation in an oversight capacity.

Turkish officials today announced that the legal proceedings for the deportation of “two Irish national terrorists caught in Syria were about to end and they would also be repatriated soon.”

Independent.ie understands that Ms Smith is among 23 people that the Turkish government is planning to deport. However a well-placed source cautioned that nothing is imminent regarding her potential arrival back in Ireland.

There was no immediate confirmation on the identity of the second Irish national, whether it refers to her daughter, or another Irish citizen being detained for fighting with IS.

The Turkish Interior Ministry added that IS fighters are being interrogated, a process that is 90pc complete, before they could be deported.

A US and a Danish IS fighter were due to be expelled today while a number of German citizens are also due to be repatriated this week.

“Two more German national terrorists who had been captured in Syria will be deported…this week. In addition, the legal proceedings for the 11 French national terrorists who had been captured on the Syrian territories are in progress,” a spokesman said.

“Turkey will extradite them no matter what,” they added.

A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs said “in accordance with longstanding Departmental practice we do not comment on ongoing consular cases.”

Last week, the Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said: “We’re working on it, we have assistance from Defence Forces personnel, with our team in the embassy in Turkey, and they’re working with the Turkish authorities on this case, and I don’t think it’s helpful to speculate on the back of rumour.”

It follows months of dialogue between various agencies led by the Irish ambassador to Jordan.

Gardaí have also confirmed in recent weeks that their investigation into Lisa Smith is continuing.

Assistant Garda Commissioner Michael O’Sullivan said Smith is under investigation on suspicion of engaging in terrorist offences while in Syria.

“She has said herself that she does not pose a threat, that she does not hold radical views,” he said.

“But like the others that have returned, that has to be part of an assessment,” the senior Garda added.

Smith moved to Syria, via Tunisia, in 2015 shortly after leaving the Air Corps, where she worked as a flight attendant on the Government jet and as a driver to senior officers.

She also served for a time with the Army as part of the 27th Infantry Battalion.

Another Irish citizen being detained for fighting with the terror group is Alexandr Ruzmatovich Bekmirzaev (45), originally from Belarus, who travelled to Syria in 2013.

He was captured by Kurdish fighters battling against the jihadists at the end of last year.

Bekmirzaev, who lived here for 13 years before going to Syria, was believed by Garda anti-terrorist officers and military intelligence to be a key member of a logistics support cell for Isil in Dublin.

He is now under investigation by the Garda national immigration bureau. As part of his citizenship application, he claimed he was legally married. But it has since been alleged that his marriage was a sham and he paid a woman to marry him.

Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu had said last week Turkey would begin to send foreign Islamic State militants back to their home countries starting on Monday, even if the nations the fighters came from had revoked their citizenship.

Ministry spokesman Ismail Catakli said one American and one German were deported on Monday. He did not specify where they were sent, although Turkey has repeatedly said detainees would be sent to their native countries.

Germany’s foreign ministry said Ankara had informed Berlin of 10 people – three men, five women and two children. A spokesman said he did not know whether any were Islamic State fighters, but did not contest their citizenship. The ministry said seven were expected on Thursday and two on Friday.

The Danish Public Prosecutor said on Monday that Denmark and Turkey were in contact over a Danish citizen convicted of terrorism charges in Turkey.

While German and Danish authorities have confirmed they were aware of the Turkish plans, French Defence Minister Florence Parly said she was not aware of them.

A Dutch court in The Hague ruled on Monday the Netherlands must help repatriate children of women who joined Islamic State, but the mothers do not need to be accepted back.

Last week, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying that there were 1,201 Islamic State prisoners in Turkish jails, while Turkey had captured 287 militants in Syria.

On Monday, state broadcaster TRT Haber said Turkey aimed to repatriate around 2,500 militants, most to EU countries. It said there were 813 militants at 12 deportation centres.

Erdogan said Turkey had captured 13 people from the inner circle of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who died during a US raid last month.

With additional reporting from Reuters

Online Editors

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