who was found guilty of joining the so-called Islamic State (IS) group in Syria. The 40-year-old mother of one from Dundalk on Ireland’s east coast, was convicted in May of belonging to the terror group between October 28, 2015 and December 1, 2019.
She faces a maximum sentence of eight years for membership of a proscribed terrorist organisation. Her lawyer said Smith’s offence was at the lower end of the scale and has urged the judges to consider imposing a suspended sentence.
She was acquitted by three judges on a separate charge of financing terrorism by sending 800 euros ($900) to aid medical treatment for a Syrian man in Turkey.
At the time, the hardline Islamists ruled over vast swathes of Syria and Iraq, attracting thousands of foreign fighters to their cause before the group’s territorial defeat in the region.
As IS lost ground to a US-led coalition on the battlefield and towns and cities under its sway fell, Smith was forced to flee Raqqa and then Baghouz, their last remaining stronghold, before returning to Ireland.
She was arrested on arrival at Dublin airport on December 1, 2019 with her young daughter.
During sentencing arguments, her lawyer Michael O’Higgins asked for her to be spared jail as she had already served a custodial sentence in Syrian camps.
He referred to Smith’s acute psychological state, after she was described in expert reports as “damaged” and “vulnerable”, emphasising the “appalling” conditions she had faced with her young child.
The court was told that Smith was held in the notorious Al-Hawl and Ain Issa refugee camps in northern Syria while she waited to be sent home to Ireland.
O’Higgins explained how IS members in the camps imposed cruel punishments on other refugees including, in some cases, setting their tents on fire and killing them in the process.
The defence lawyer also asked the court to consider that Smith has lived with a 13-hour daily curfew as part of her bail conditions since 2019.