Ireland said that a suspected ISIS bride is allowed to come back — a stark departure from how the US, UK, and others have reacted

A woman believed to be Lisa Smith speaks to ITV News about being a part of ISIS in Syria in March. ITV News
  • Ireland said it will allow a suspected ISIS bride to return with her child, thought she could face prosecution on her return.
  • The stance is the opposite to the UK and the US, which have distanced themselves from ISIS brides who want to return.
  • The UK government stripped Shamima Begum of her citizenship and faced criticism when her baby died in Syria.

Ireland’s prime minister said that a suspected ISIS bride can return to Ireland with her two-year-old child, a decision that contrasts with the way the US, the UK, and Europe have dealt with people in similar positions.

Leo Varadkar said on Monday he would not consider revoking Lisa Smith’s citizenship, which is how the UK dealt with Shamima Begum, a 19-year-old who has asked publicly to come back, but been firmly rejected.

Varadkar said: “Ultimately this is an Irish citizen and we don’t believe that removing an Irish citizen’s citizenship from her or her family, rendering them stateless, would be either the right or compassionate thing to do,” Irish outlet reported.

Smith was a member of the Irish Defence Forces and the Irish Corps, but left to go to Syria around five years ago, the Irish Times reported.

Smith’s husband was a British citizen who recently died while fighting for the Islamic State, according to the report. It said the two married while in ISIS territory.

It is not clear what, if anything, Smith may have done to support ISIS while she was there.

Read more:
11 American women who left the US to become ISIS brides and fighters

Police suspect that Smith is the woman with an Irish accent who gave an interview to ITV News at a detention camp in February, the reported.

Leo Varadkar
Leo Varadkar. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

In the video, the woman says that the caliphate is “not yet over” and says she does not believe the group will be defeated. She says she is British, but the ITV News reporter notes her Irish accent.

She says she was convinced to go to Syria by ISIS propaganda: “You come, you see the propaganda, you want Islam, you want to come and live in Muslim country and environment.”

Varadkar told reporters in Dublin on Monday that his government does not yet have the “full information” about Smith’s case.

“Going to Syria or going to live in what was called Islamic State is not in itself an offence or a crime. So we will need to carry out an investigation,” he said, according to the Irish Times.

Read more:
ISIS brides from Canada, the US, and Europe are asking to return home years after fleeing for Syria. Here are their stories.

But he warned that she would face investigation and potentially prosecution if she had been involved in any crimes.

The UK, the US, and Europe have dealt with ISIS brides differently

Varadkar’s comments contrast with the way countries like the US and the UK are dealing with ISIS brides who want to return home.

The UK government revoked the citizenship of Shamima Begum, who fled the UK to join ISIS in 2015, when she was 15. A spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces confirmed that her baby died at a camp in north Syria.

Shamima begum
Shamima Begum at a BBC interview on February 18, 2019. BBC News/YouTube

Her mother has urged the government to reconsider its decision as an “act of mercy.”

Read more:
After facing death threats, ISIS bride Shamima Begum has been moved from a Syrian refugee camp to a site near the Iraqi border

And US President Donald Trump has vowed to deny entry to a woman from Alabama who went to Syria to join ISIS four years ago.

Alabama Sen. Doug Jones said Hoda Muthana should be allowed to return to the US from Syria with her 18-month-old son and face the criminal justice system.

“While I certainly understand the initial reaction to prohibit Hoda Muthana from coming back to the United States, I am concerned that allowing anyone who has committed crimes against the people of this country to remain beyond the reach of our justice system is the wrong approach and sends the wrong message,” Jones said in a statement to

The Trump administration says she is not a citizen, though she was born in New Jersey and held an American passport before joining ISIS.

Her father is suing the US government to have it recognise her as a citizen and to return her to the country immediately.

Two French women told AFP that they have fled ISIS and want to return to France. France is hesitating to take them back.

They expressed fear for their children and said they hoped they would be judged fairly if they are put on trial.