DUBLIN — A 38-year-old woman was arrested on arrival in Dublin Sunday and has been identified by Ireland’s Justice Minister as a former soldier in Ireland’s army, who told CNN in March that she had traveled to Syria as an ISIS bride.
Irish Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said in a statement that Lisa Smith had been deported from Turkey with her young daughter.
“On her arrival in Dublin, Lisa Smith was met by An Garda Síochána,” Irish Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said, using the Irish name for the national police force.
“This is a sensitive case and I want to reassure people that all relevant state agencies are closely involved,” Flanagan’s statement continued.
The Irish government has been working to repatriate Smith since her case was first reported by CNN in March.
Irish Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney told Irish national broadcaster RTE on Sunday that authorities were working “primarily to ensure the safety of a 2-year-old girl who was in a warzone.”
Ireland’s child and family agency as well as “different partners” are now looking into the “welfare of the child,” he added.
Meanwhile, Smith is “not living among” the Irish people and that she is “in a Garda station being questioned,” Coveney said.
CNN interviewed Smith, who is a widow, when she was being held at al-Hol camp in northern Syria with her daughter.
She initially approached CNN at the large encampment, created for those displaced from the former ISIS territory, saying she was “quite famous back home.”
Wearing a niqab and carrying her young daughter in her arms, Smith added that she wanted to return to Ireland.
“Not all people here are terrorists they are ordinary people that made mistakes,” Smith told CNN.
When asked whether she was prepared to be prosecuted when she returned to Ireland, Smith said: “Well I know they’d strip me of my passport and stuff and I wouldn’t travel and I’d be watched kinda — but prison? I don’t know. I’m already in prison.”
A reporter for RTE was on the Turkish Airlines flight from Istanbul carrying Smith and her child.
Smith declined to answer questions about how she felt about returning home, replying only with a “no,” RTE reported.
Smith kept a low profile during the flight, never left her seat, spending most of the time playing with her daughter and had little interaction with the officials accompanying her, according to RTE’s reporter on the flight.
Police said that Smith’s daughter, who is also an Irish citizen, is now being cared for by relatives.
Flanagan said “established procedures for her care will be followed.”
On the flight, Smith “wore a headscarf, appeared to be in good spirits and did not look anxious prior to her arrival,” according to RTE.
Turkey first began the process of returning alleged foreign ISIS fighters to their home countries in November, something that it has long pushed for, even for those fighters stripped of their citizenship.
Ankara has repeatedly criticized European nations for refusing to take back their own nationals. But several European countries have refused to take in the captured foreign fighters, saying that those individuals were denationalized, according to a report from Turkey’s state-run news agency Anadolu in November.
US President Donald Trump has previously pushed for the return of foreign fighters, calling European nations a “tremendous disappointment” for their failure to bring ISIS militants home — and threatening to dump them on their doorstep.