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Dublin: 17°C Thursday 24 June 2021

'She got duped': Woman who helped Lisa Smith convert to Islam 'shocked' at alleged ISIS links

Carol Duffy claims her friend was ‘very naive’ before she left Ireland a number of years ago.

A DUNDALK WOMAN who says she helped Lisa Smith convert to Islam says she was “shocked” to hear about her alleged link to the Islamic State group.

Carol Duffy, who grew up and attended the Dundalk Community Mosque with Smith, also claimed that she has “no idea” what brought her friend to Syria.

Her comments come after it emerged on Friday night that Smith is being held in northern Syria on suspicion of membership of the terrorist group.

It is understood she is currently being detained by the US armed forces based in northern Syria.

Duffy told Liveline on RTÉ Radio 1 that Smith was a “very funny, very approachable” woman, and claimed she could not believe that the former Air Corps member was in Syria when she heard the news.

“If anyone had said to me before that Lisa would do that, I’d have said ‘Lisa Smith, definitely not’,” she said.

She also revealed that Smith began attending the mosque in Dundalk around 2010, and that while the former Air Corps member hadn’t initially converted at the time, she had a keen interest in the religion.

“Lisa’s one of those people who’s interested in all sorts of different things. She hadn’t converted then; she was just looking for information,” she said.

“But she had friends who were Muslim and she knew a fair bit about the ins and outs of it, but obviously nothing in depth, and that’s why she came to us.”

However, Duffy believes that shortly after converting to Islam, her friend began to drift, saying the last thing she heard about Smith was that she had met a man and moved to Tunisia, where he was originally from.

“She seemed to be very happy there for a while…but I know she was talking to people online before she moved to Tunisia; we had conversations about it,” Duffy said.

Duffy also claimed that Smith was brainwashed by people online, and even came to attention at a mosque in Dublin because she began sharing extremist views before moving to Syria.

“She was talking to a man and a woman online and they were telling her things and she’d come back and tell us,” she said.

“She slowly started isolating herself. She moved further and further away.”

She added that she was conflicted by news that Smith was now being detained with her child in Syria, saying that she did not know what should happen to her friend.

Duffy said that while she was “adamant” that anyone who was involved with Islamic State should be punished, she believed the Smith she knew would not physically hurt anyone.

“I don’t believe she ever lifted a gun, I don’t believe she killed anyone. I don’t even believe she was sympathising with them,” she said.

“I think she was looking for something idealised and it didn’t work out that way and I think she got duped.”

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