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Ex-Irish Soldier Justified Jihad Before Joining IS, Witness Says

Former Irish soldier Lisa Smith (L) arrives to attend her court hearing at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin, Ireland, Jan. 8, 2020.

A former Irish army soldier justified jihad suicide bombings while attending a mosque in Ireland before she joined the Islamic State group in Syria, a Dublin court was told Wednesday.

Lisa Smith, 39, is on trial accused of being a member of the Islamist extremists after traveling to war-ravaged Syria in 2015.

She has pleaded not guilty to membership of an unlawful terrorist group between October 28, 2015, and December 1, 2019.

She has also denied funding terrorism by sending $900 to aid medical treatment for a Syrian man in Turkey.

But Carol Karimah Duffy, who introduced Smith to a mosque in Dundalk before she left for Syria, said she made attendees there uncomfortable.

"There was a lot of talk about justifying why the suicide bombs were happening," Duffy told the Special Criminal Court of Smith's conversations with others at the mosque.

"That we were being attacked so we were attacking back. It was us and them,” Duffy said. "Then there was talk of jihad and it was her version of jihad, which would have been the holy war jihad."

Duffy added that Smith also said she wanted to find a husband who would be willing to die as a Muslim martyr.

Smith moved to IS-controlled territory in October 2015 after buying a one-way ticket from Dublin to Turkey, and from there crossing the border to Syria.

The court was told on Tuesday that she lived in Raqqa, the capital of IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's self-styled caliphate, and unsuccessfully attempted to get her husband to join her.

He refused and she divorced him in 2016. Some months later, she married a U.K. national who had moved to Syria and been involved in patrols on the Iraq border.

When Raqqa fell to allied forces in 2018, she moved to Baghouz, the group's last remaining stronghold.

After that too fell in March 2019, she eventually returned to Ireland and was arrested on arrival with her young daughter at Dublin airport on December 1.

Prosecutor Sean Gillane said Smith had "enveloped herself in the black flag of ISIS" in response to a call to arms from Baghdadi.

In doing so, she had self-identified as a member of the proscribed group, he told the three judges at the court in the Irish capital who will rule on the case.